A legal standoff has emerged between the Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court and the Nagaland State’s Department of Law & Justice over the attempted transfer of the murder case of Imkongjiba Kichu (in Chungtia) from Mokokchung to Dimapur. According to Nagaland Page, the Nagaland Government has petitioned the Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court for an extension of time to file a counter-affidavit regarding the dispute between the Court and the State’s Department of Law & Justice.

In a recent court session, Justice Budi Habung granted the State’s request for an additional two weeks to file the affidavit, following a prayer by Ms S Mere, the Public Prosecutor for the State. This decision came after the Court had previously granted the Public Prosecutor three weeks to file the affidavit during a hearing on 22 January.

The main issue at hand is the application of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 1973 in Nagaland. The State’s Public Prosecutor, Ms S Mere, argues that the transfer order issued by the State Government is in accordance with Rule 22C of the Rules for Administration of Justice & Police in Nagaland, 1937, as amended in 1984. However, the Court has questioned whether the relevant provisions of the 1984 amendment have been implemented, as specified in Section 1(3) of the Act. The Public Prosecutor has requested time to obtain clarification on this matter.

In response, the learned Public Prosecutor stated that she would require some time to obtain the necessary instructions.

The dispute stems from a petition filed by the Registrar of the Kohima Bench, challenging the Law Department’s decision to transfer the murder case. Previously, the Court had stayed the trial proceedings of the case pending before the Principal District & Sessions Judge, Mokokchung.

In October 2023, the Principal District & Sessions Judge of Mokokchung reportedly informed the Registrar of the Kohima Bench about the transfer of the murder case from Mokokchung to Dimapur, initiated by the Department of Law & Justice. The Sessions Judge highlighted that only the High Court has the authority to transfer a case, according to Section 407 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Consequently, the Registrar forwarded the letter to the Principal Seat of the Gauhati High Court, seeking a decision on the administrative aspect of the case. The Principal Bench of the Gauhati High Court approved the Registrar of the Kohima Bench to register a suo moto transfer petition in response.

In a separate hearing related to the case, held on 16 December last year, the Court once again denied the bail application of the accused individuals involved in the murder case of Imkongjiba Kichu in Chungtia Village. Imkongchiba Kichu was the nephew of T Chalukumba Ao, who contested and lost in the Nagaland Assembly Elections as a JD (U) candidate. The nephew’s tragic murder occurred on 22 February.

Mokokchung Times

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