Mundra drug haul case: NIA court rejects bail plea of key accused

A special NIA court in Ahmedabad Tuesday rejected a bail application moved by one of the key accused — Durga PV Govindaraju — in the Mundra port drug haul case.

A key ground canvassed by the accused Govindaraju was that she was “innocent” as she was unaware of the consignment details and was only acting on instructions from her husband, also a key accused in the case — Machavaram Sudhakaran.

Taking into account the prima facie role of Govindaraju established in committing the offence which the court recorded, “clearly and undoubtedly emerges”, and observing that the accused “having conspired with other co-accused, prima facie appears to have involved in a grave and serious offence having far-reaching implications”, special NIA judge S K Baxi accepted the prosecution’s arguments and rejected the plea.

The Chennai-based couple own the company which was allegedly shipping the 2,998.21 kg of heroin seized at the Mundra port of Gujarat by the Directorate Revenue of Intelligence (DRI) in September.

Govindaraju is the proprietor of M/S Aashi Trading Company, registered in Andhra Padesh’s Vijayawada, that was importing the talc from a firm called M/s Hasan Husain Ltd.

As recorded in the court order of special NIA judge SK Baxi, it was submitted by Govindaraju that it is her husband “who looks after the day-to-day affairs” of the proprietorship concerned “set up by him on the basis of the personal details” of her.

Govindaraju also submitted that she “was not involved into or a party to the transactions entered into by her husband,” and was merely the proprietor “on paper” and therefore had “no knowledge of the deceiptful import of the contraband heroin.”

Adding that she is being “used as a scapegoat”, it was submitted before the court that a person named Amit “who is more actively involved and instrumental in commission of the present offence, despite being named by the husband of the present applicant during the course of his interrogation,” is “surprisingly not arrested by the investigating agency.”

NIA opposed Govindaraju’s bail application primarily on the ground that the accused cannot claim relief on the ground of innocence as a similar modus operandi was adopted in June for shipping contraband drugs through Mundra port, of which 16.105 kg have been recovered, while the exact trail and amount received at the port remains a subject matter of investigation.

Opposing the plea, NIA submitted that the offence “involves an international drug cartel comprising of players based at Afghanistan, Iran and India, and the modus operandi suggests a deep-rooted conspiracy to exploit trade friendly approach of India for furthering the nefarious activities of the international drug cartel, with an intent to destabilise the Indian economy and also pose serious threat to national security.”

NIA also submitted that Govindaraju had knowledge of the routine affairs of her firm and therefore, “she had absolutely full knowledge of the contents of the imported illegal consignments ,” and further submitted before the court that Govindaraju “was found to be an active member of international drug cartel.” It was also the NIA’s case that Govindaraju “despite having knowledge regarding involvement of her husband in illegal activities, continued to sign the documents related to the consignments of heroin involved in the present offence.”

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