TODAY -

Disability on betel leaves

Birendra Laishram *

 consignment of betel leaves seized at  Bir Tikendrajit International Airport, Imphal :: April 04 2020 .
Consignment of betel leaves seized at Imphal International Airport on April 04 2020 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



The talks of betel leaves would have not been there had the incident occurred prior to the pandemic by COVID-19 leading to imposition of lockdown and curfew everywhere because there is no legal loophole in transporting these goods in the state.

If the government wants to take action as demanded by the people from different sections, careful steps should be taken up as per Manuals of Disposal of seized/confiscated goods without any legal departure to avoid any consequential loss of money from government account/tax payers money.

Betel Leaf is perishable in nature may require special arrangements for their preservation and storage. Else may be disposed of immediately after seizure by the Custodian with due notice to the owners and obtaining orders from the Competent Authority.

If at a later stage, goods are ordered to be released to the lawful claimant, they would get the sale proceeds realized by the department after deducting the duty liability and other liabilities.

Further, if the goods in this category have been seized and have to be destroyed because they have become unfit for disposal or for consumption on account of delay, the AC/DC in charge of seizing unit would be responsible for the lapse.

In case any compensation happens to pay to the party by the government due to lapses/wrongful actions of government servants then, responsibilities must be fixed under existing Personal Liabilities Act and payments should not be made from taxpayers account.

What are the charges to be labelled?

1. If the case is to be taken up for violation of curfew whether the police stationed at the Airport has the right to cease the goods transporting through the fights within the Airport itself before violation of curfew was taken place?

If not, the case reported to and taken up under Singjamei Police Station will it be correct? Only the violator is to be booked for violation of curfew, lockdown and non-compliance of government orders.

Please see whether FIR is lodged against the person who is not in the case. The arrestees were not arrested from the public places to substantiate the violation of curfew.

2. It is said that some of the consignments were lifted to the nearby Storage located at Changangei during the curfew hour but there is not report of arrest of the violator/the driver at the spot.

3. Any lot of confiscated/seized perishable goods of value exceeding rupees five lakh shall not be sold directly to the cooperative societies/federation (functional for at least 10 preceding years) and shall be sold by e-auction or auction- cum-tender basis. Delay in disposal will attract legal actions from the party and other charges from the Airport Authority of India. Government may consult law department.

It may be interesting that even some cases reached Supreme Court disputing Tomato as Fruit or as Vegetable; Coconut a Dry Fruit or Fresh Fruit, sugarcane as vegetable, betel leaves a vegetable or medicinal herbs thereby taking years to decide thus if it once reached the Hon’ble court, it may take some time.

In common parlance:

It is said that betel leaves contain many curative and healing benefits and vitamins like vitamin C, thiamine, niacin etc. Water is good with its own and also has good qualities if with honey and bad qualities if with Alcohol.

Betel leaf is despoiled as Jarda pan only after mixing with tobacco. Whatever it may be, it is not yet declared as vegetable or food items or essential commodities.

Everybody knows that betel leave means betel leaves to make Jarda-paan by mixing with tobacco and now for sales at higher price.

This is known from the local dailies that the prices of Jarda-paan is 4/5 times higher than the price before this pandemic hence, importing betel leaves during this pandemic is with profiteering motive and also leading to intentional violation of ban of tobacco in Manipur.

Moreover, all the passenger flights were suspended at this juncture and only the cargo flights are put to work only for ferrying essential commodities thus, bringing of non-essential items tantamount to misusing the cargo flight.

Decide the charge to be framed carefully and the case be handed over to the CBI (to tone-down the voice of the CSOs in the state) to nab the persons involved for violation of government orders.

Everybody wants behind tobacco to save household economy, to save health to avoid family problems but legally we are handicapped.


* Birendra Laishram wrote this article for The Sangai Express and Imphal Times
The author can be reached at biren2059(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 11 2020.



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