High profile arrest, high profile acquittal
Building a strong case
Apart from the COVID-19 global pandemic, if at all 2020 will be remembered for years to come it will obviously be for the infamous Lhukhosei Zou, who today stands acquitted of the drug smuggling charges levelled against him by the Government of Manipur. It also stands that any reference to Lhukhosei Zou will come with the addendum of former Additional SP of Narcotics and Affairs of Border, Th Brinda, who incidentally has returned the gallantry award bestowed on her by the State Government under its slogan ‘War on Drugs’. ‘Totally failed to prove the charges levelled against them,’ ruled the Judge of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Court while acquitting Lhukhosei Zou and six other co-accused in the infamous drug haul case that dates back to 2018. Zou has been exonerated by the Court, which works in its own ways, far removed from the general understanding of the public, and therefore it was incumbent on the part of the prosecution to build up a strong case, with no loopholes. What went wrong with the case presented by the NAB is the question that ought to be raised at this point, for Court battles are won or lost on how well the prosecution is presented. This is where all concerned would need to look inward and study if there were loopholes that should have been plugged. It is the ND and PS Court which has acquitted Lhukhosei Zou and the six others, but if the State Government wants to pursue the matter, there is always the higher Court which may be followed. Why not approach the High Court of Manipur and if the need arises, even the Supreme Court of India and rope in the service of an agency like the CBI which can go about building up a stronger case against the accused ? Such an approach would give more credibility to the tom tommed War on Drugs campaign of the Government.
It is important to note that arresting someone with drugs and making it stick in the Court of law are two different things and this is where certain questions such as whether the investigating team did the necessary follow ups or not arises. It is also important to question whether the investigation was allowed to proceed smoothly without interference from any quarters or not. This question is important for it stands that for too long Manipur has been reeling under the impact of ‘connections‘. How strongly was the case built is the question that needs to be repeated here. Any loopholes in building the prosecution is bound to work in favour of the accused and this is what led the Court of observe that ‘the prosecution has totally failed to prove the charges levelled against them.’ And what are the charges ? The charges include seizure of huge quantities of drugs including heroin and WY Tablets worth about Rs 27 crore and Rs 57,18,000 in cash on June 19, 2018. The important question is whether the seizure claim was followed minutely to let it stick when presented before the Court. Whatever the case, Lhukhosei Zou is today a free man and if the State Government sincerely thinks that is not the case, then it should prepare to go to a higher Court.