A day after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the Kerala gold smuggling case, the Central agency on Friday registered a case of terrorism against three individuals. The Centre informed the Kerala High Court that accused Swapna Suresh is not entitled for anticipatory bail as the NIA has registered an FIR under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) over ‘raising funds for terrorist activities’.
The Customs department on Sunday had seized 30 kg gold, worth Rs 15 crore from a diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE Consulate at the Thiruvanathapuram airport. Ravi Prakash, the Central government’s counsel submitted the HC has no original jurisdiction to consider the anticipatory bail application and that only a Special Court can consider it. The bench of Justice Ashok Menon expressed agreement with the submission.
The CGC further submitted that the Customs acted on information that three persons, P R Sarit, Sandeep Nair and Swapna Suresh were involved in gold smuggling by misusing the route of diplomatic baggage.
The counsel further said that statements of Sarit, and the wife of Sandeep Nair have been recorded and these statements revealed that Swapna Suresh was involved in arranging the diplomatic papers for the delivery of the baggage. That stands corroborated by her statements in the bail application, he said.
The bench ultimately adjourned the hearing till next Tuesday after the advocate for the accused sought copies of the statement submitted by the Customs and the new FIR registered by NIA.
It is understood that the decision to leave the case to the NIA was taken after approval from PM Modi. The government has been in receipt of reports that the IS recruits from Kerala have been using gold smuggling to transfer funds meant for terrorist activities. The NIA hopes to receive crucial information from the UAE on the case. The UAE government has conveyed that the packet addressed to the official of the consulate was not a diplomatic bag, but normal cargo.