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Zou’s acquittal in drugs case: Manipur Govt’s order to file criminal appeal was ‘never’ placed before HC when seeking ‘leave of appeal”

File photo of a sit-in protest demanding appeal in a higher court

The government of Manipur on Friday informed the Supreme Court that an appeal was filed in the High Court of Manipur against the acquittal of Lhukhosei Zou and others by a local court. However, it was never placed before Manipur HC when a petition was filed seeking “leave of appeal”

TFM Desk

The government of Manipur has finally filed the much awaited appeal against the controversial judgement of the NDPS Court in Special Trial Case no. 100 of 2018 dated 17.12.2020, acquitting Luthosei Zou and 11 co-accused despite of overwhelming evidence on record of their involvement in drug trafficking.

However, according to a press release, The 3.5 Collective said it was hoping to see a copy of the appeal once it is deposited to the Supreme Court of India (SC) as directed in its order dated April 29, 2022.

Government of Manipur’s affidavit to the SC annexed a letter stating that “As per the direction of the Governor of Manipur vide order dated 18 March 2021 issued by the Deputy Secretary (Law) Govt. of Manipur, the undersigned has been entrusted to prepare Govt. Criminal Appeal…”

“Interestingly, this fact of Governor of Manipur’s order to file a criminal appeal was never placed before the High Court of Manipur when members of The 3.5 Collective filed a petition seeking the “leave of appeal”, even-though the hearing of the case continued till April 26, 2021, which is more than a month after the order. If the Government had submitted this fact in the High Court, we need not have filed the Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the SC”, said The 3.5 Collective.

It may be noted that members of The 3.5 Collective have filed a SLP (Cril.) Diary no. 26457/2021 challenging the said NDPS judgement as well as the judgement of the High Court of Manipur refusing to grant the “leave of appeal” against the NDPS judgement on the ground that the petitioners are not “victim” and therefore do not have the right to file an appeal.

“We are, nevertheless, happy that the SC has decided to look into the definition of “Victim” in the context of the notorious crime of drug trafficking. This exercise, we hope, will help in expanding the narrow definition of “victim” in the criminal 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 3.5 Collective.

“If done so, the drug users and their families, who have been suffering untold miseries due to the menace of drug, will be entitled to play its due role in the criminal prosecution of drug traffickers. It is an unfortunate reality that there is almost zero conviction to all the multiple drug haul cases making the “War on Drugs” of the Chief Minister and “Nasa Mukta Bharat Abhiyaan” of the Prime Minister mere empty slogans. We believe that involving the drug users and their families in the prosecution of the trafficker is the missing link to win these “War” and the “Abhiyaan”, added The 3.5 Collective press release issued by the petitioners Maibam Jogesh, Geetchandra Mangang, Ramthing Hungyo and Babloo Loitongbam.

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