– Kaybie Chongloi
When people of Manipur from the poor to the rich, from daily wages earner to the top bureaucrats, young and old, men and women are busy with the frontline workers in combating the pandemic COVID-19 with all available resources, a custom official in the state seems adamantly fighting the pandemic with dishonesty.
Recently, on June 4, in a video shared by an Advocate, Chongtham Victor on social media, a custom inspector was seen insisting another lawyer to settle a case which has already been disposed off earlier. The incident took place when the lawyer, on the strength of power of Attorney went to the office of Custom Division Imphal Range (DPF) situated at Chingmeirong.
In the video, the lawyer on the strength of power of Attorney and the Custom Inspector had a heated argument in local Manipuri dialect as the lawyer asked the Custom Inspector as to why only Rs. 4 lakh will be refunded out of the actual Rs.5 lakh.
According to Chongtham Victor, the Custom Inspector has been identified as Mohammad Abdul Hassan while his colleague lawyer was identified as Amom Manglemsana. Victor also pointed out that the incident happened when his friend Amom Manglemsana visited the Custom Division office at Chingmeirong and captured the whole episode where the Inspector was openly asking for money.
Victor recalled that a month back one bus was seized and confiscated with gold/ornaments, but as per provision of the Custom Act the owner of the vehicle had deposited a sum of Rs. 20 Lakh on the ground that Rs. 5 Lakh has been to refund.
However, the Custom Inspector denied refunding the full refundable amount of Rs. 5 Lakh to Amom Manglemsana, rather informed him to tell the vehicle owner that Rs. 1 Lakh has to be deducted for ‘Kharcha Parcha’ as done by everyone.
The Custom Inspector was heard saying in the video captured by the lawyer, “tell the owner of the vehicle as he was the one who deposited the amount” and then he was heard concluding the argument by saying everyone is paying for release of vehicle seized for ‘Kharcha Parcha’ [expenses and table work].
The Custom Inspector was also heard saying, ‘Photo kap kanu (don’t capture photo)’ as the video clipping at the end showed the image of the Custom Inspector.
Advocate Chongtham Victor further added that since the matter has come to the public it has to be converted into some practical manner so as to develop the system and stamp out the corrupt practice in the state.
The Custom Officer is now under the scanner of CBI, Anti-Corruption Cell of Manipur. The concerned Ministry in Shillong is also likely to take up disciplinary action as the matter has already reached to them as well. With the remarks made by the Inspector against the lawyer community, the lawyer group may also deal with the matter.
Advocate Victor appeals everyone for help for the sake of justice in eradicating the practice of corruption in the society.
It is worth mentioning that, the BJP Government under the leadership of Nongthombam Biren Singh has promised to abolish the tradition of corruption in the state when the party came into power in Manipur.