Army PRO Ajay Choudhury, others granted bail in Pallel drug case

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IMPHAL, May 20: Five accused of the Pallel drug haul case including Army PRO Colonel, Ajay Choudhury, who were lodged in the Sajiwa Central Jail have been released on bail today.

Two of seven accused are still absconding from the police.

The five were granted bail by the Special Court Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (ND&PS), Thoubal, following a plea from the counsel of the accused.

The plea was heard on May 19 before the Special Court (ND&PS), Thoubal, S Imocha Singh.

However, the identities of the other four accused granted bail couldn’t be ascertained till the filing of this report.

An order issued by the court mentions that the counsels of both petitioner and CBI (represented by RK Bhatacharjee) were present during the hearing. However, no objection was submitted by both the parties.

It further mentioned that RK Bhatacharjee for the CBI and the Investigating Officer of the case have stated that the accused have been in custody for more than the statutory period prescribed in the ND&PS Act.

Under the given circumstances, the counsel is of the opinion that further custody of the accused is not warranted under the law, it said.

The accused were released today on bail on execution of PR bond of Rs One Lakh each.

However, the accused shall not leave the state without prior permission of the court. They will appear before the court on May 25.

It is pertinent to note that the case had been officially taken over by the CBI since October last.

The accused were lodged in Sajiwa Central Jail since the Manipur High Court cancelled the bail granted to Lt Colonel Ajay Chowdhury and six others on October 3 2013.

It may be mentioned that the special court had granted bail to the seven accused on two separate occasions.

On July 17, 2013, a special court ND&PS Manipur had granted bail to three accused namely Lt Col Ajay Chowdhury, Ng Brojendro and RK Babloo while the remaining four accused were granted bail on July 12 last.

The counsels had challenged in a petition that the special court has exercised its judicial discretion arbitrarily and erroneously by omitting certain provisions of the ND&PS Act.

It mentioned that the special court (ND&PS Manipur) has failed to comply with the restriction imposed under section 37& 36 A (4) of the ND&PS Act adding that the Parliament has made effective provisions by introducing this NDPS Act 81 of 1985, specifying mandatory minimum imprisonment and fine as well as for not releasing the offenders on bail till the trial is completed.

In response to the petition, the High Court had set aside the order of the special court (NDPS Manipur) and cancelled the bail bond and security bond furnished.

The last hearing of the seven criminal revision petition cases (Reference FIR No.27(02)2013 Kakching P.S U/S 21/25A/29/60 ND&PS Act & Sec. 140/136/34 IPC27 Arms Act) was held on September 24 and 26.

On February 24, 2013, a team of Thoubal police commandos led by SI, L Dhanabir Singh, intercepted a consignment of drugs worth Rs 25 crores from a convoy of vehicles led by Lt Col Ajay Chowdhury.

The police arrested six of the seven accused including the Lt Ajay Chowdhry. The five other accused arrested were identified as Letminlal Haokip alias Minlal Haokip, 25, son of (L) Kakai Haokip of New Checkon near Brighter School; Lunkhohao Haokip alias Haopu Haokip, 28, son of (L) Thangam Haokip of B Vengnom Churachandpur; Zangminthang Tuboi alias Minthang, 29, son of Dousei Tuboi of Bunglung Village; Ngairangbam Brojendro Singh, 40, son of (L) Ng Gyaneshor Singh of Singjamei Khongnang Pheidekpi and RK Babloo, 25, son of RK Bijen of Top Khongnangkhong.

The next day Seikholen Haokip, 35 years, son of Telsing Ngamjang (T.N) Haokip (former minister) of B Vengnom Tuibong was arrested.

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