8 Oct 2021 6:40 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Friday quashed the continued preventive detention of the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA).A Division Bench of Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Mohammed Nias CP allowed the plea filed by Suresh's mother that sought quashing of the...
The Kerala High Court on Friday quashed the continued preventive detention of the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA).
A Division Bench of Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Mohammed Nias CP allowed the plea filed by Suresh's mother that sought quashing of the detention order.
She is presently detained in the Women's Prison and Correctional Home, Attakulangara pursuant to the Preventive Detention order issued under COFEPOSA by the Central Government authority.
In the plea, it was highlighted that the accused was currently the only woman in preventive detention under the COFEPOSA in the State.
Suresh was remanded to custody on July 12, 2020. The case is still being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), National Investigative Agency (NIA) and the Customs department.
She had moved the Court for bail in the case registered against her by NIA as well. This matter will be heard later this month. Suresh was separately also placed under preventive detention in the exercise of powers under COFEPOSA.
The petition, filed through Advocate Sooraj T Elenjickal, had challenged the preventive detention order citing that it is illegal and arbitrary.
It was argued that there was absolutely no compelling reason to deprive the detenue of her personal liberty, and that the reasons, observations and conclusions in 'grounds of detention' and the documents relied upon by the detaining authority were not sufficient enough to issue order of preventive detention as against the detenue.
"The continued detention of the detenue is further vitiated by the non-compliance of the constitutional safeguards in its letter and spirit. Though the order is purported to be issued under Section 3(1) of the COFEPOSA, the same does not satisfy the mandatory pre-requisites specified therein as well," the plea reads.
The plea further added that Suresh suffered from cardiac issues, epilepsy and depression and that her continued detention puts her at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
On these grounds, the petition sought quashing of detention was allowed by the Court today.
However, the accused will continue to remain in jail since she is in custody in the NIA case.
The Gold Smuggling Case:
Swapna Suresh is a former employee of the UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram, and is the prime accused in the gold smuggling case where gold worth Rs 14.82 crore was smuggled in diplomatic baggage. She is currently under judicial custody since her arrest.
However, a few months ago, a voice clip purported circulated earlier this year alleged that some ED officials had threatened the prime accused during the interrogation to give statements against the Chief Minister and some ministers.
Later, two women civil police officers, who were with Suresh when she was questioned by the ED, also reportedly claimed they had heard the ED officials forcing her to name the Chief Minister.
On this ground, the Crime Branch registered FIR against the ED officials contending that while questioning Swapna Suresh on 12th and 13th August 2020, they forced her to give false statements against the Chief Minister to ''fabricate evidence.''
Accordingly, a case was registered under several provisions of IPC against the ED. This was challenged before the Single Bench of the High Court by the respondent.
Case Title: Kumari Prabha Suresh v. Union of India
Click Here To Read The Order