ED's plea in HC with 'hidden agenda', says Kerala govt;seeks its dismissal

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Kochi, Mar29 (PTI) The Kerala government on Monday sought dismissal of the ED's plea in the High Court seeking to quash the FIR registered against its officials by police for allegedlyforcing Swapna Suresh, key accused in the gold smuggling case, to give statements against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

In a counter affidavit filed before the court, the state government said the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) petition was 'with an ulteriormotive' and 'hidden agenda'.

In its plea filed on March23, the ED had alleged that the FIR was registered against its unnamed officials with 'ulterior motive of derailing the statutory investigation' under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) into a large economic offence of smuggling of huge quantities of gold.

The Crime Branch had registered a case on March 17 on the basis of a report filed by the Crime Branch team which was probing the leak of a voice clip, purportedly belonging to Suresh.

According to the FIR, the ED officials, probing the gold smuggling case while questioning Suresh on August 12 and 13, 2020, have forced her to give false statements against the state chief minister in order to make fake evidence.

The state government today submitted that the ED had made a request to the Prisons department for an inquiry on the alleged leak of the voice clip, based on which a probe was initiated.

'During the course of inquiry by the jail authorities, Swapna Prabha Suresh has given a letter in her own handwriting dated 19-11-2020 in which she admitted that the voice clip belonged to her,' the government said in the affidavit.

The state government also said the officer P Radhakrishnan, the deputy director of the agency, hasfiled the petition in his personal capacity through a private lawyer, when he is not figured as an accused in the said FIR and no report has been submitted before the jurisdictional court arraigning him as an accused.

'Itis not expected of an officer of the government to make use of the documents which he has access by a reason of his official capacity, for redressal of his personal grievance...' '..it is amply clear that the writ petition has been instituted with an ulterior motive, with some hidden agenda, apart from mere challenging of the FIR and the investigation which is being undertaken by the state police,' the affidavit said.

The government said through the petition, ED was attempting'to put various allegations, speculations and rumours', in relation to the recent investigations in the state by the central agencies 'to the public arena', through production of some 'legally unsustainable documents', so as to 'malign and to make imputations' against some highly reputed political personalities of the state, who are not parties to the proceedings.

The central agency wanted the court to stay all further proceedings pursuant to the FIR against ED officials and direct no coercive action against the officers of the Enforcement Directorate 'who are performing their official duties' under the PMLA 2002 pending disposal of the petition.

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.

Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate here, is the prime accused in the case relating to the smuggling of 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14.82 crore in a diplomatic baggage and now under judicial custody since her arrest.

In a voice clip purported to be that of Suresh 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 last year to give statements against Vijayan and some ministers. PTI CORR RRT BN BN