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Gold Smuggling: Kerala High Court Grants Bail To Prime Accused Swapna Suresh And Others

Hannah M Varghese
2 Nov 2021 8:38 AM GMT
Gold Smuggling: Kerala High Court Grants Bail To Prime Accused Swapna Suresh And Others
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday granted bail to the accused, including prime accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith P.S. in the infamous gold smuggling case which had snowballed into a political controversy in the State with a condition to furnish a bail bond of Rs. 25 lakhs and 2 solvent sureties. A Division Bench comprising Justices K. Vinod Chandran and C. Jayachandran pronounced...

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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday granted bail to the accused, including prime accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith P.S. in the infamous gold smuggling case which had snowballed into a political controversy in the State with a condition to furnish a bail bond of Rs. 25 lakhs and 2 solvent sureties. 

A Division Bench comprising Justices K. Vinod Chandran and C. Jayachandran pronounced the judgment today after having extensively heard the submissions of all parties involved before reserving its judgment on the last hearing day.

The Bench observed that while smuggling of gold could very well be a threat to the economic security of the nation, the same was not contemplated by the parliament to be hit by UAPA as was evident from the debates on the amendment by which Section 15 (1) (a) (iiia) was inserted into UAPA.

Elaborating on the point, the Court said that if the intention of the parliament was to widen the definition of terrorism to bring in acts such as gold smuggling which could destabilise the economy, it had the opportunity to do so. However, the amendment restricted the definition of terrorist activity destabilising the economy to counterfeiting of high-quality currency or coins.

"True; acts of destabilization of the economy, as distinguished from a physically violent subversive act could also be deemed to be a subversive act against the nation. If the intention was to widen the definition of terrorism, to bring in acts, destabilizing the economy; surely the Parliament had the power. But, the Parliament by inserting economic security in Sec. 15(1) and simultaneous insertion of sub-clause (iiia) of clause (a) by the very same amending act, restricted the definition of a terrorist activity, in so far as destabilizing the economy, to counterfeiting of high-quality currency or coins."

The applicants were in custody for smuggling gold via diplomatic channels and for illegal smuggling of large quantities of gold from foreign countries. They were accused of smuggling 30 kilograms of gold through diplomatic cargo dispatched to UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram.

Gold Smuggling Through Diplomatic Channel An Act Of Terrorism: NIA Argues Before Kerala High Court

The applications were preferred for bail under Section 439 of CrPC for offences alleged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The appeals were first posted on 21st May 2021 but were adjourned multiple times. The Court had expressed its displeasure at the repeated requests for adjournments during the last hearing.

Prime accused Swapna Suresh was accused of engaging in the criminal conspiracy with the intention and knowledge that this could threaten the economic security of the nation. However, in her appeal filed through Advocate Sooraj T Elenjickal, she has submitted that the undisputed allegations in the charge sheet will not attract any offence under the UAPA.

The Court had recently quashed the continued preventive detention of the accused under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA). However, she continued to remain in jail since she was in custody in the NIA case.

Last week, the Bench had elaborately recorded the submissions in the NIA case made by the accused through their counsels. The appellants were represented by Senior Advocates S. Sreekumar, C.C. Thomas and Gopakumaran Nair. Advocates Nireesh Mathew, Martin Jose, Manu Tom, Sooraj T Elenjickal and Ashwin Kumar also appeared in the matter.

Case Title: Mohammed Shafi P. v. National Investigation Agency & connected matters.

Click Here To Read/Download The Judgment


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