Kerala gold smuggling case: No evidence against Sarith, Sandeep other than their statements, says court
The court had granted bail to the duo on Wednesday even after the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) contested the bail plea
KOCHI: The Ernakulam District Principal Sessions Court, which is also a Special Court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases, has observed that there was no evidence regarding the involvement of the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case accused Sarith PS and Sandeep Nair other than their purported statements.
The court had granted bail to the duo on Wednesday even after the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) contested the bail plea.
The court made the remarks following the submission of the ASG that former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar was granted bail by the Kerala High Court based on his age and sickness which should not be considered as reasons for granting bail to Sarith and Sandeep.
"It may or may not be true that the accused have smuggled 30 kg of 24 carat gold to our state. But, as it was seized by the Customs Preventive Authority, it did not go into the hands of the accused persons. It may be true that they have given statements under PMLA to the authorities while they are in custody. It is only as per the statements the ED would say that this was the 21st incident and prior to this accused smuggled gold 20 times. Apart from this, there are no documents to prove the involvement of the accused in this regard," the court observed in the bail order.
The court maintained that four accused persons -- Sarith, Sandeep, Swapna and Sivasankar -- charged-sheeted by the ED have equal involvement in the case. Swapna and Sivasankar have already been granted bail. "Being a democratic country, all persons are equal before the law. When two persons were granted bail in the very same set of facts, I don't find any valid reason to deny bail to other co-accused," the court observed.
However, both Sarith and Sandeep would not be released from jail as they are facing preventive detention under COFEPOSA evoked by the Customs. Both received bail in the Customs case last year. Similarly, Sandeep was made an approver in the case probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the terrorism aspect behind the gold smuggling. Sarith is yet to receive bail in the NIA case.