Kerala Gold Smuggling: HC adjourns Swapna Suresh's anticipatory bail plea

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the probe into the Kerala gold smuggling case involving former employees of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.

The agency informed the high court its decision when it took up a plea by one of the key accused in the case Swapna Suresh for anticipatory bail on Friday, July 10. NIA opposed the bail plea saying that the high court had no jurisdiction over cases relating to national security.

The NIA is understood have registered the case under UAPA against Swapna and her accomplices. Following the NIA opposition, the high court has deferred the hearing on Swapna’s petition to July 14.

Appearing for Swapna, Advocate Rajesh Kumar urged the Court for relief while submitting that she is unaware of why she has been accused of involvement in the case.

The Court was further informed that no FIR copy had been served on Swapna as of yet and further that she became aware of the transfer of the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last night only through media channels.

Central Government Standing Counsel, Ravi Prakash, disputed the maintainability of the pre-arrest bail plea pointing out that if the case is taken up by the NIA and the matter is transferred to a special court, the High Court can no longer entertain the anticipatory bail application.

He further asserted that the custodial interrogation of Swapna is necessary. It was pointed out that source-based info had initially pointed to her involvement and that of two others - Sandeep and Sarith - in the gold smuggling case. Statements given by Sarith and Sandeep's wife have been taken, the Court was told.

However, the authorities have been unable to serve summons on Swapna Suresh despite several attempts, Prakash said while arguing that her conduct has been suspicious.

He pointed out that Swapna has switched off her mobile and is absconding. He also raised concern that there are powerful people involved in the case.

Further, he highlighted that the source-based information regarding Swapna's alleged involvement has been corroborated to some extent in the anticipatory bail plea moved by her before the Court. It was argued that, by her own admission, she was involved in the gold smuggling process, whether she is innocent (of a crime) of not.

The investigation is at a nascent stage and massive recoveries have been made, he said. As such, CGSC Prakash contended that the custodial interrogation of Swapna was necessary.

The senior public prosecutor appearing for the NIA added that apart from economic offences, offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for raising funds for terrorist activities through gold smuggling have been registered.

While CGSC Prakash also stated that Swapna does not have a clean record in terms of criminal antecedents, her counsel countered that she has been discharged from the referred case.

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