DDA preparing to give clean chit to Sanghai Group in narcotic drug smuggling case

Published On: February 7, 2023 06:01 PM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Feb 7: The Department of Drug Administration (DDA) is set to provide clean chit to Nepal’s major business house Sanghai Group in a pseudoephedrine (drug) smuggling case. Sources said that the DDA is going to acquit Sanghai Group while a case related to the same smuggling is pending at the Supreme Court (SC).

In 2016, Ratan Sanghai and others were arrested after hundreds of kilograms of raw materials used to make drugs were found in the warehouse of a plastic industry of Sanghai Group in Lalitpur. Ratan Sanghai of the Sanghai Group was arrested after the police recovered 471 kg of the  narcotic drug hidden in the warehouse on the basis of special information. The case is still sub judice at the Supreme Court. However, the District Court Dhading and the District Court Parsa have given their verdicts and on the basis of that, the DDA is going to acquit the Sanghai Group.

DDA Spokesman Santosh Bhattarai said that there is no problem in giving clearance after the business house has completed the required process. "They have been acquitted by the district courts, so, if they complete all the process, they will be cleared," said Spokesperson Bhattarai.  According to him, the matter has been put on a halt for the time being as it needs to be discussed but as the court has acquitted, there would not be any difficulty for the Department in issuing a clean chit in writing. "Everything cannot be disclosed but it cannot be stopped if the court clears them of the charge,” said Spokesperson Bhattarai

Earlier, the then DIG Jai Bahadur Chand, then DSP Apil Bohora and his team seized 952 identical containers of raw materials which are used to make narcotic drugs in the warehouse of Shanghai Plastic Industries Pvt Ltd in the Patan industrial area. During that time, Dilip Pandit, an Indian citizen working at Arya Pharma Lab Pvt Ltd in Kamalpokhari, was also arrested.

Similarly, in that case, Pawan Shanghai was also made a defendant as the main person of Shanghai Group. He has invested in everything from the gas industry to banks and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. However, he has not yet been acquitted despite being accused of being a drug dealer.

"The business house has wanted to be cleared for a long time. They tried to get cleared of the charge during the previous government, but it was not possible. At present, the staff of the department themselves are going to complete the process and give the clearance," said an employee of the DDA. According to that employee, only after receiving the letter of acquittal from all levels of courts, the department can grant acquittal with the permission of the Ministry of Health. As the department has to get the approval of the ministry while giving the clearance, Sanghai Group can get the clearance this time if the present Health Minister Padam Giri gives his nod.

At that time, the Narcotics Control Bureau had arrested Ratan Sanghai after preparing a list of those involved in Arya Pharma and drug-making chemical smuggling.  In a 'sting operation', while the Bureau was negotiating with Shankar Halan, the owner of Arya Pharma through a fake client, for the purchase of pseudoephedrine, its connection reached the Shanghai Group. After a long period of negotiation, the police arrested him after Shankar Halan entrusted his son Mohit Halan with the responsibility of sending the drug to the person who had come with the money as there was a deal to buy and sell 22 kilos of pseudoephedrine for 2.5 million rupees.

Businessmen Ratan and Pawan Shanghai were arrested after they were found to have sold the chemical pseudoephedrine to drug dealers in countries like China, India, and Burma for Arya Pharma. Pseudoephedrine is a type of chemical used to make drugs.

The drug manufacturing company should apply to the DDA to bring this chemical into the country. The DDA then sends the application to the Ministry of Home Affairs for permission. The ministry gives approval after it is clear how much of the raw material is to be  brought and from which country. The pseudo ephedrine that was brought with permission from the home ministry was misused. After obtaining the permission of the home ministry and receiving the approval of the company and the firm bringing the pseudoephedrine, one can purchase it only by opening an LC.

It was found in the police investigation that the business house had misled the home ministry and brought the drug. Details of how many tablets of medicine were produced from the chemicals brought in and in which shops the medicine was sold should be prepared and submitted to the government. The data of which company brought how much pseudoephedrine to Nepal is sent to the Nepal Narcotics Bureau and the International Narcotics Control Bureau as well.

However, the police had alleged that Shanghai Group was misleading the ministries, departments and bureaus and supplying the drug to third countries. 

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