21 July 2022 11:28 AM GMT
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking to transfer the trial in the gold smuggling case from Kerala to Karnataka. The transfer is sought for the money laundering case in relation to the smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels.The agency says that "free and fair trial" of the case is not possible in Kerala due to the close nexus between the...
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking to transfer the trial in the gold smuggling case from Kerala to Karnataka. The transfer is sought for the money laundering case in relation to the smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels.
The agency says that "free and fair trial" of the case is not possible in Kerala due to the close nexus between the accused and top officials and functionaries in the Kerala Government.
The case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is at present before the Special PMLA Court at Ernakulam and the ED seeks its transfer to Special Court for PMLA cases in Karnataka.
The agency has said in its petition that the four accused persons in the case are highly influential and have close nexus with the top officials in the Kerala Government. One among the accused is M Sivasankar, an IAS officer of Kerala cadre who was the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Kerala.
The other accused persons are PS Sarith, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair. The ED alleges that the State Police, at the behest of highly influential persons, is trying to derail the trial in the case and is pressurising the accused persons to retract their statements recorded under Section 50 of the PMLA.
It is said that accused Swapna Suresh, while she was under custody, had filed an application for protection stating that certain officials were threatening her against disclosing names of persons in high positions. Another accused, Sandeep Nair, after getting bail in the case, filed a complaint alleging that ED investigating officer had coerced him to name the Chief Minister and other Ministers in the case. The Kerala Police registered FIR against the ED officials alleging fabrication of evidence and the Kerala High Court stayed the FIR proceedings. The Kerala Government also constituted a judicial commission against the ED investigation and the Kerala High Court stayed the functioning of the Commission.
The application also refers to the recent allegations made by Swapna Suresh against the Chief Minister and his family members regarding involvement in gold smuggling. The ED also undertook to produce the confidential statement of Swapan Suresh recorded by the Judicial Magistrate under Section 164 CrPC in a sealed cover.
"These overwhelming facts demonstrate that Local Police and State Government machinery are trying to manipulate the accused and the witnesses. All these facts necessitate that trial be transferred from the State of Kerala. Due to the proximity of the State of Karnataka to the State of Kerala, the present petition seeks for a transfer to the State of Karnataka", stated the application filed under Section 406 of the CrPC.
The smuggling came to light after the Customs Commissionerate (Preventive), Cochin, seized gold worth ₹14.82 crore at the Trivandrum International Airport in July 2020. The contraband was carried in the diplomatic baggage addressed to the consulate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at Thiruvananthapuram. A UAPA case is also charged with respect to the smuggling, which is before the Special NIA Court at Kochi.