KOCHI: The Central government on Friday informed the Kerala High Court that Swapna Suresh, who has gone into hiding after the Customs seized 30kg of gold smuggled through the diplomatic channel, had conspired and actively participated in the illegal activity. She is a pivotal member of the gang engaged in smuggling of large quantities of gold to India by defrauding government agencies using the cover of diplomatic protection. The Centre said the involvement of higher officials cannot be ruled out at this stage and it can be unearthed only by interrogating Swapna.
Opposing Swapna’s anticipatory bail plea, the Centre’s counsel told the court that this is a case that adversely affects the nation’s security and economic stability. Swapna’s interrogation in custody is crucial as her aide Sandeep and other gang members are also at large. She does not have a clean history and has been involved in a crime registered by Valiyathura police.
According to the Centre, since the case is critical to national security and the country’s relationship with friendly foreign states, the National Investigation Agency has registered a case against Swapna. Hence, the petition is not maintainable. Citing a High Court order, the Centre’s standing counsel, Ravi Prakash, said 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 accused Sarith Kumar’s statement has indicated his active role in the import of the cargo in the guise of diplomatic baggage. The Consular Charge d’Affaires has also confirmed that he used to take Sarith’s help for odd jobs. Sarith directly paid the clearing charges for contraband cargo himself in cash, as against the general practice of making such payment by the consulate through RTGS.
Sarith used to take delivery of contraband cargo himself in his car, as against the general practice of taking routine deliveries through vehicles belonging to the UAE Consulate. The statement of B S Soumya, wife of another suspect, Sandeep, has been recorded, the Customs informed the court. She said her husband 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 gangs also. Swapna used to arrange papers for getting the cargo addressed to the consulate cleared from the air cargo complex.
The Customs officers have tried their best to serve a summons on her at her all known addresses. However, she is deliberately avoiding it to thwart the ongoing investigation, the Centre told the court.The NIA’s counsel submitted that an FIR under the UAPA has been registered against the gang for raising funds for terrorist activities. The court adjourned the case to Tuesday.