Manipur HC directs to release man arrested for alleged narcotic smuggling

The accused Lunkhomang Haokip, 24, son of (L) Jangkholan Haokip, a resident of Bazar Veng, Tuibuang, Churachandpur district filed a bail application before the High Court to release him under Section 439 CrPC read with Section 37 of the NDPS Act.


The Manipur High Court chief justice Sanjay Kumar on Tuesday directed to release on regular bail, a man who was arrested for alleged narcotic smuggling from Khudengthabi Check Post by 26th AR on January, 29, 2019.

The HC directed to release him in Special Trial No 54 of 2019 before the Special Court (ND and PS), Manipur [Ref: NCB Crime (FIR) No.03/04/NCB/ Imp/ATS/CL-2019 dated January 30, 2019, upon his furnishing a personal bond for a sum of Rs 50,000 to the satisfaction of the Special Court (ND and PS), Manipur at Lamphelpat. 

The accused Lunkhomang Haokip, 24, son of (L) Jangkholan Haokip, a resident of Bazar Veng, Tuibuang, Churachandpur district filed a bail application before the High Court to release him under Section 439 CrPC read with Section 37 of the NDPS Act.

Lunkhomang claimed that he worked as a driver on a daily hire basis to earn his livelihood. On January 28, 2019, his cousin Thangminlen Haokip asked him to drive one Nengneichong Lhungdim alias Chochong of Khomoi, Churachandpur to Moreh and back in her car on the next day. He claimed that he accepted this offer on payment of Rs 500 as driving charges along with free food.

He further claimed that the lady and he drove from Churachandpur to Moreh in her Hyundai Santro Car. On the return journey from Moreh to Churachandpur, when they reached the check-post of the 12th Assam Rifles at Khundengthabi at around 3 pm, he stopped the car for verification and checking. The lady, Nengneichong Lhungdim, went to the other side of the check-post on foot, which was the normal practice as per the applicant, as all occupants of vehicles would alight and go on foot to the other side of the gate.

However, during the checking, a subedar of the 12th Assam Rifles detected 64,000 WY tablets from the vehicle. He claimed that he had no knowledge of the existence of these drugs in the car, and when he looked for the lady who had hired him, he could not find her.

The applicant stated that he was arrested by subedar/general duty of the 12th Assam Rifles Gajender Singh, who had himself conducted the search and seized the tablets. After being detained the whole night, he has remained in custody since then, he stated.

The Narcotics Control Bureau, Imphal, filed a charge-sheet/final report against the applicant on July 17, 2019 before the Special Court (ND and PS), Manipur at Lamphelpat. He was charged with offences under Sections 8(c), 22(c), 25, 28, 29, 30, 35 and 60 of the NDPS Act. Charges were framed against him by the Special Court and the investigating officer was examined as the first witness on January 20, 2020.

The applicant filed a Criminal Petition No 8 of 2020 under Section 482 CrPC before the High Court to quash the charge-sheet filed against him. On February 24, 2020 the High Court directed the Special Court not to proceed with the case till the next date of hearing. The order was extended from time to time and stated to be still operative. It is learnt that “the trial could not continue thereafter and remained stayed due to the order secured by himself.” The applicant’s bail application in Criminal Misc. (B) Case No. 193 of 2020 was dismissed by the Special Court on November 18, 2020.

The high court after hearing the submission from petitioner’s counsel and respondent’s counsel stated that the WY tablets were found concealed under the rear seat of the vehicle which did not belong to the applicant and he was in it only as a hired driver.

It was observed that his knowledge of the hidden tablets is therefore in the realm of uncertainty and it is very well possible that he is totally innocent. The high court stated that the presumption of a culpable mental state, under Section 35 of the NDPS Act, would arise only if such knowledge is established. The fact that he has no past criminal record and is a married man with roots in society, makes it improbable that he would commit any offence, it was stated. “Thus, upon testing his claim on these parameters also, the Court must hold in his favour. Therefore, Lunkhomang should be entitled to grant of bail at this stage,” the High Court stated.

The HC further stated he should not leave Manipur without the leave and permission of the Special Court and should not offer any inducement, threat or promise to anyone connected with the case.

 
 
 
 
 
First Published:July 27, 2021, 10:36 p.m.

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