KOCHI: The central government on Friday informed the Kerala High Court that Swapna Suresh, who is at large after the seizure of 30 kg of gold smuggled through the diplomatic channel, had conspired and actively participated to facilitate gold smuggling.
She was a pivotal member of the gang engaged in smuggling of large quantities of gold to India by defrauding government agencies and the Customs department using the cover of diplomatic protection, it said.
The Centre also revealed that the involvement of higher officials cannot also be ruled out at this stage, which can only be unearthed after interrogating Swapna.
Opposing the anticipatory bail plea of Swapna, the central government also submitted that this is a case affecting the security of the nation and its economic stability. The interrogation of Swapna in custody is crucial as her aide Sandeep and other gang members are also at large. Swapna does not have clean antecedents and has been involved in a crime registered by Valiyathura police, Thiruvananthapuram.
According to the central government, since the case is critical to national security and the country's relationship with friendly states, the National Investigation Agency has registered a case against Swapna. Hence, the petition is not maintainable. Citing a High Court order, the central government Standing Counsel Ravi Prakash submitted that only the NIA Special Court has the original jurisdiction to entertain an application for anticipatory bail. Hence, this bail application should be dismissed.
The Customs informed the court that the statement of Sarith has indicated his active role in the import of the cargo under the guise of diplomatic baggage. The Consular Charge d'Affairs has also confirmed that he used to take the help of Sarith for odd jobs. Sarith directly paid clearing charges for contraband cargo himself in cash, as against the general practice of making such payment by the consulate through Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS). Sarith used to take deliveries of contraband cargo himself in his car, as against the general of the practice of taking routine deliveries through vehicles belonging to the consulate.
The statement of another accused Sandeep's wife, BS Soumya, was also recorded, the Customs said. Her husband Sandeep used to smuggle gold with the help of Swapna, Sarith and other identified persons under the guise of diplomatic cargo. Swapna and Sarith used to smuggle gold for other smuggling gangs also. Swapna used to arrange papers for getting cargo of the consulate cleared from the air cargo complex.
Customs officers have tried their best to serve a summons on her at all her known addresses. However, she is deliberately avoiding being served this summons to thwart the ongoing investigations, the central government informed.
Meanwhile, counsel for NIA submitted that an FIR under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has been registered for raising funds for terrorist activities. The court adjourned the case to Tuesday.