The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday, 23 March, approached the Kerala High Court, seeking a CBI probe in the case registered by the Crime Branch of Kerala Police against officials of the central agency. The Kerala Police had registered the case against ED officials for allegedly forcing Swapna Suresh, the key accused in the gold smuggling case, to give statements implicating Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. According to LiveLaw, the matter was mentioned before a bench of Justice VG Arun on Tuesday.
The case filed by Kerala Crime Branch was registered under various sections of the IPC after Swapna Suresh was questioned by the ED on 12 and 13 August 2020, and an audiotape surfaced where Swapna purportedly said she was allegedly forced to give false statements against the Chief Minister in order to create fake evidence.
“The ED officials, probing the gold smuggling case while questioning an accused named Swapna Prabha Suresh on 12 August and 13, 2020, have forced her to give false statements against the state chief minister in order to make fake evidence[sic.],” the FIR read.
In a voice clip purported to be that of Swapna circulated a few months ago, it was alleged that some ED officials had threatened her while she was being interrogated at the agency office in Kochi in August 2020, to give statements against Vijayan and some ministers.
Later, two women civil police officers who had been with Swapna when she was interrogated by the ED had also reportedly claimed that they had heard the ED officials forcing her to name Vijayan.
The Crime Branch case has been registered under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury), 192 (fabricating false evidence), 195-A (threatening any person to give false evidence), among others of the Indian Penal Code.
Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate Thiruvananthapuram, is the prime accused in the case relating to smuggling 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14.82 crore in a diplomatic baggage and is now under judicial custody since her arrest.
Besides the ED, the Customs and the National Investigation Agency are also probing the smuggling of gold through the diplomatic channel. Vijayan has accused the central agencies of targeting his government.
(This story was first published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)