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Has challenged Lhukhosei Zou’s acquittal in drug case, Manipur govt tells SC

India News

The Manipur government on Friday told the Supreme Court that it has filed an appeal in the High Court against the December 2020 acquittal of Lhukhosei Zou and others by a Manipur court in a drug case.

The government submitted this in response to a petition by a civil society collective in Manipur, including an organisation of former drug users that works for the rehabilitation of drug addicts, challenging the acquittal and alleging that the prosecution refused to file an appeal.

The Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Manipur government on March 25, asking the state why it had not filed an appeal in the matter.

The Manipur government informed the court on Friday that it filed an appeal against the acquittal in the high court on April 26. In its affidavit, the state government has said that the delay in the appeal has occurred as the government received the copy of the court order (acquittal) on April 22.

The Supreme Court asked the state government to submit a copy of the appeal filed, said the petitioners.

The case came made headlines in 2020 when Additional Superintendent of Police and decorated officer with the Narcotics and Affairs of Border Bureau, Th Brinda, had accused then Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh as well as the BJP state vice-president of “putting pressure on the department to withdraw the case”.

Brinda had led the raid on Zou in 2018, and claimed to have recovered 4,595 kgs of heroin and 2,80,200 World is Yours (WY) Amphetamine tablets weighing 28 kgs, from different properties. The accusations came in the form of a sworn affidavit that Brinda filed in the high court. In her affidavit, Brinda claimed that among the arrested persons, Lhukhosei Zou was considered to be the kingpin of the drug cartel.

At the time of his arrest, Zou was the Chairman of the 5th Autonomous District Council (ADC) of Chandel district. He was elected to the ADC in
June 2015 on a Congress ticket and became its chairman in September 2015. He defected to BJP in April 2017.

“While the state claims that it has always been in the process of appeal, it is strange that the appeal was filed only this month, two years after the acquittal. We had approached the high court in 2021 to challenge the acquittal. In the final hearing earlier this month, we don’t understand why the Advocate General did not mention that there was already a government order seeking appeal. Had this been brought to our notice, the need for approaching the Supreme Court would not have arisen,’’says Executive Director, Human Rights Alert, Babloo Loitongbam, who is a petitioner in the case.

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