Gauhati High Court directs Mizoram to conduct fresh investigation into smuggling of dry arecanuts


The Gauhati High Court directed the  Chief Secretary of the State of Mizoram to file his personal affidavit explaining that why the order  passed by the High Court to conduct a fresh and impartial investigation regarding smuggling of the dry arecanuts has not been complied with in its full letter and spirit.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijay Bishnoi and Justice Michael Zothankhuma heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the petitioner raising a concern about the smuggling of the dry arecanuts from the State of Mizoram to the other places. The allegations are made that the State Government is not taking any steps to curb the smuggling of dry arecanuts and forged e-way bills have been issued by the concerned Department.

The Court, on 22.01.2024, taking consideration into the averment made in the petition and the stand of the various respondents, has passed a detailed order while prima facie recording a finding that there are some irregularities/illegalities in issuance of the e-way bills by the concerned Departments to the individuals or Firms, which facilitated them in smuggling of the arecanuts from Champhai District of the State of Mizoram to other places. 

Taking note of the facts and circumstances of the case, a specific direction was given to the State Government to conduct a fresh and impartial investigation into the complaint/FIR filed by the petitioner while seeking an explanation from the State Government that why the FIR submitted by the petitioner has not been registered by the Champhai Police Station. The Court has further clarified that in any event there would be no bar for the State Government to file a new/fresh FIR in this case. 

"It is a sorry state of affairs that despite giving specific direction by this Court vide order dated 22.01.2024 and thereafter granting time to the State Government twice to furnish before this Court the latest factual report, it transpires that till date no FIR has been registered on the complaint filed by the petitioner. "

The Court noted that without even registering the FIR on the complaint filed by the petitioner, the Investigating Officer had earlier filed an application in the Court of the  Chief Judicial Magistrate concerned with a prayer to take cognizance against the alleged accused persons, however, the said application was rejected by the  Chief Judicial Magistrate concerned on 07.01.2022 and thereafter even passing of the order dated 22.01.2024 again an application was moved before the Chief Judicial Magistrate concerned with a prayer to give direction how to proceed the matter/case. 

Further the Court noted that the Officer-in-Charge of Champhai Police Station has deliberately not complied with the direction given by the Court or the State Government is also not taking the matter seriously.

"In such circumstances, we have no option except to direct the Chief Secretary of the State of Mizoram to file his personal affidavit explaining that why the order dated 22.01.2024 passed by this Court has not been complied with in its full letter and spirit."

The Officer-in-Charge of Champhai Police Station shall also file his personal affidavit that why the FIR on the complaint, filed by the petitioner way back in the year, 2021 has not been registered till date, the Court further directed.