Court orders disposal of seized betel leaves

STAFF REPORTER
IMPHAL, 20th Apr: A local court on Monday ordered disposal of the betel leaves cargo, which were seized from the Airport on April 24.The said cargo was seized from Imphal International Airport on April 4.
During the zimma hearing held at Judicial Magistrate First Class Imphal West -I on Monday, after listening to the arguments of both counsels, the Court ordered the case IO to dispose of the consignment under the supervision of SP Imphal West, in a safe location away from public settlement area, as per instructions of the designated officer of Food Safety Administration. It further ordered that both electronic and print media must cover the process, while adding that the disposal process must be video recorded right from the start to the end and the same must be submitted to the Court.
The Court also observed that as part of the preventive measures against COVID-19, a Food analyst collected a sample of the betel leaves on April 9. On April 17, the sample report was received and it indicated that the leaves were decomposing rapidly. Furthermore, it is not known if people would be ingesting the betel leaves or utilising them in religious rituals.
As per MyGov Corona hub lockdown 2.0 guidelines for public spaces (India Fights Corona), wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing is mandatory, while avoiding a gathering of 5 or more persons, spitting in publics spaces, sale of alcohol, gutka (tobacco) and other intoxicating substances is prohibited. As such, releasing or auctioning of the seized betel leaves on zimma could lead to an uncontrolled spread of the virus.
On top of this, releasing the consignment could serve as a direct challenge to the precautionary measures being taken up by the central and state governments. As such, the Court directed the case IO to choose a site that is located far away from the population and to dispose of the seized consignment at the said location on April 24 under the supervision of SP Imphal West and as per the instruction of the Designated Officer of Food Safety Administration. The disposal process must be carried out in the presence of electronic and print media, it added.
It may be mentioned here that Singjamei PS had arrested 5 persons in connection with the betel leaf cargo case, of which 4 are on judicial remand, while one had been granted bail.


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