On the insistence the Collective, the Supreme Court has agreed to look into the definition of ”victim” in the context of the notorious crime of drug trafficking. It has already submitted a detailed interlocutory application praying for a liberal interpretation of the term ”victim” in Indian criminal law.
The 3.5 Collective, a body comprising of various civil society organisations in Manipur has welcomed the statement the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in the Lok Sabha on December 21. Amit Shah has said, ”Our government’s policy is very clear, those consuming drugs are victims, we should be sensitive towards them and give victims a conducive atmosphere for their rehabilitation. But those involved in drug trafficking should not be spared”.
The Collective has been insisting on the need to recognize the drug users as victims of drug trafficking; rather than the present outdated practice of considering them as criminals as per section 27 of the NDPS Act.
In a press note, the Collective said, “In fact on this very issue, we are currently fighting a legal battle at the apex court seeking the Hon’ble Court to define the ”victims” of crime of drug trafficking so that drug users can file the appeal against acquittal of drug traffickers when the state government fail to do so”.
This is a fall out of the controversial judgment of the NDPS Court in Special Trial Case no. 100 of 2018 dated December 17, 2020, acquitting Lukhosei Zou and 11 co-accused despite having “overwhelming evidence on record” of their involvement in drug trafficking and the Government of Manipur’s indolence to go for an appeal, said the Collective.
The 3.5 Collective members approached the High Court of Manipur to grant the ”leave of appeal” against the NDPS judgment. But the court declined the prayer on the ground that the petitioners are not ”victims” and therefore do not have the right to file an appeal. Thereafter, The 3.5 Collective members moved a Special Leave Petition (Cril.) Diary no. 26457/2021 in the Supreme Court of lndia challenging the NDPS judgment as well as the judgment of the High Court of Manipur. It was only after the apex court has pulled up the Government of Manipur to cite reasons for not going for an appeal that it finally filed the much awaited appeal on April 26, 2022.
“On our insistence the SC has kindly agreed to look into the definition of ”Victim” in the context of the notorious crime of drug trafficking. To this end we have already submitted a detailed interlocutory application praying for a liberal interpretation of the term ”victim” in the criminaI law of India to widen its definition as envisaged in the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power 1985”, said the Collective.
The 3.5 Collective expressed the hope that the statement of the Union Home Minster would serve as the much needed catalyst to empower the drug users and their families, who have been suffering untold miseries due to the menace of drug, to play its due role in the criminal prosecution of drug traffickers.
“On the other hand the ”Nasa Mukta Bharat Abhiyaan” of the Hon’ble Prime Minister will be meaningful only when the whole society, including user community, is involved”, said the Collective press note issued by convenor Babloo Loitongbam, co-convenors Maibam Jogesh and Geetchandra Mangang.