AIZAWL, Oct 20 – In a major blow to thousands of depositors hope for justice, the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court ‘discharged’ the kingpins of the Chiahpuam cheating scam, including C Lalmuanpuii, who collected allegedly fabulous sums of money from gullible Mizo people.
This is the biggest cheating case in the history of the State and affected people had been waiting for the courts to give them justice and their hard earned money back for over five years. But the Mizoram court failed to give them any with the CJM’s court setting their tormentors free from all charges.
He heard a total of 15 Chiahpuam cases on which he passed judgements last week. CJM Michael Lalrinsanga Sailo “discharged” from all charges of cheating among ‘others’ the big ‘collectors’ of common Mizo people’s money namely, Roliana, Jubileethangi, ST Khuma, Zomuanthanga, Chuauhmingthangi, Zonunsangi, Liankhumi Hmar, Zothanpuii, LH Vanlalzapi, Chawngringsangi, Rodingliana, Lalhmunbuatsaiha, Lalnunhlua Sailo, R Lalthiamsangi, B Zonunsangi and C Laldinpuia.
Friday last week only three of the 15 judgments were available. In all the judgements he said that the properties, cash, buildings and vehicles seized by the police (when the collectors failed to pay their depositors their interest and principle amount in October 2008) were to be handed over to the Deputy Commissioner for “necessary action.”
In the criminal trial no.1587 of 2008 in which Liankhumi Hmar stood accused under IPC 403 , 409, 420, 421, 424 and 34, all pertaining to cheating, she had told Police investigators that she had deposited a sum of Rs109.30 lakh to C Lalmuanpuii on 27.10.2008 at a rate of 30 per cent; a sum of Rs 61 lakh on 28.10.2008 and Rs 6,75,41,900 on 29.10.2008 but the scheme collapsed the same day and Lalmuanpuii fled.
Liankhumi had 20 direct collectors and three direct depositors, with 36 sub-collectors and 334 depositors. After noting all the police investigation and the deeds of Liankhumi, who police said had even gone to the extent of making affadavits in order to convince gullible people to ‘deposit’ money with her at a high rate of interest by informing them of about the existence of a Board of Members governing investment.
After noting all these points of police investigation, CJM Sailo’s judgement said that “with regard to section 420 of the IPC it appears that as per evidence on record, the accused person had not induced any individual to dishonestly deliver property and it appears that the persons who had deposited the money had done it of their own free will in order to derive profit from the entire scheme.” Hence, the judgement continues, “it would be inappropriate for this court to involve this section since the depositors had seemingly wanted the profit of 30 per cent interest and hence for this reason, the accused persons is hereby discharged and absolved of all charges framed under this section of law.”
The CJM court also discharged her under section 409 as she was neither a public servant or banker or merchant or agent as the “entire scheme is not registered.” Section 424 /421 was inapplicable to her as the court’s opinion was that she had not fraudulently removed or concealed property and repeats that “depositors seem to have deposited money on their own choice” and due to this she is discharged from these sections.
Liankhumi was discharged of section 403 as the chargsheet clearly stated that she had not converted any of her property to her own use nor derived any benefit, and that section 304 was inapplicable to her as “there was no other individuals chargesheeted along with her.”
Property like cash, passbooks, vehicles, etc., were, however, seized from her and her downline network and deposited in a State Bank of India account under the court maintained by SP Aizawl. Though she is discharged the articles seized are not going to be returned to her as “ownership cannot be proved”.
Similarly, other kingpins C Laldinpuia, Janet Lalduhzuali and C Lalmuanpuii were discharged in the criminal trial case no 1590 of 2008. Police investigation said that C Laldinpuia had collected Rs 6,75,90,000 from people and given them 5 per cent interest per week. The other collectors had also collected fabulous sums from the common people which they had deposited among themselves. But the CJM found that they had not broken any law and discharged them.
In the third judgement on criminal trial no.1404 of 2008 under IPC 420 (cheating), 421/424/409 and 34, CJM Sailo discharged 13 persons including the kingpins named above as he found that there is no chargesheet and that this case is dealing with seizure of properties.
All the cash and properties seized from them in the Chiahpuam investigation are confiscated with District Magistrate. He said that “there is no legal basis in a criminal proceeding whereby seized articles can be returned to the depositors as ownership cannot be proved as all the transactions have not been done as per law.”