Gold smuggling case main accused Swapna Suresh moves Kerala HC, seeks anticipatory bail

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The main accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, who is still absconding has moved the Kerala high court for anticipatory bail. 

 

Advocate Rajesh Kumar TK, who is Swapna's lawyer, filed the plea online on Wednesday late night. 
She has denied any connection or involvement with the gold smuggling in the case, which has kicked up a political controversy in the state.

The court will decide today on the date to consider the plea.

In the anticipatory bail plea, Suresh stated:

"Rashid Khamis Al Sheimeili, who is the present acting charge of the Consulate General of UAE, directed the petitioner to check with Customs regarding the delay of his consignment reached in the cargo on 30.06.2020. Again on 01.07.2020 as a secretary under work on request basis, the Consulate General instructed her to contact the Customs officer, cargo complex, Thiruvananthapuram and as a part of discharging the official duties the petitioner called the Assistant Commissioner of Customs and verified the status of diplomatic cargo."

The plea claims that the petitioner only contacted the Assistant Commissioner of Customs through phone as per the instructions from Consulate General as part of her official work.

"Petitioner has no connection and no involvement with respect to the smuggled gold," the plea stated.

On July 5, around 30 kg gold worth Rs 15 crore, concealed in diplomatic consignment, was seized at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport by the Customs Department.

Sarith Kumar, an accused in the case, who had previously worked as a public relations officer (PRO) in UAE Consulate-General's office in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested on Monday and remanded for 14 days.

Swapna Suresh, another accused in the case, is on the run after the gold was seized from the airport. Suresh was employed in Space Park and Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITL), which comes under the IT department, a portfolio held by Kerala Chief Minister. 

The involvement of Swapna Suresh in the case came to light when the customs department questioned Sarith.

Sarith had given a statement claiming that Swapna is his close friend. The customs department said Swapna forged documents of the UAE consulate to obtain diplomatic immunity to run her gold smuggling operation.

Earlier, a petition was filed before the Kerala High Court seeking a probe by central agencies into the case of gold smuggling through the diplomatic channel.

Petitioner Michael Varghese, a journalist from Alappuzha, has made Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and former IT Secretary M Shivasankaran respondents in the petition.

According to the petition, ''These scams pose a threat even to national security and require immediate registration of an FIR in respect of all these scams and a meaningful and effective investigation by the CBI, NIA, Revenue and Customs authorities in full cooperation with the state police.''

M Sivasankaran, who was Chief Minister's Principal Secretary and served as IT secretary, was on Tuesday removed from both the posts.

Moreover, the authorities in the United Arab Emirates have launched an investigation in the case to find out who sent the cargo containing gold to the address of UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

The Embassy said that the culprits have not only committed a major crime but also "sought to tarnish the reputation of the UAE mission in India" and they will not be spared.

The case has been investigated by CBI, ED and NIA with various aspects like international involvement
 

With inputs from Agency

Image credit: Onmanorama

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