Kerala govt moves HC on order quashing FIRS against ED sleuths

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Kochi, Jul 7 (PTI) The Kerala government on Wednesday approached the High Court against its orderquashing the two FIRs filed by state police against Enforcement Directorate officials for allegedly forcing the key accused in the gold smuggling case to give statements against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The state government filed the appeal against the April 16 order of a single bench on two pleas filed by Deputy Director of ED Kochi Zone, P Radhakrishnan.

The petitions had challenged the two FIRs registered by the crime branch on the basis of a purported audio clip by gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh, alleging she was coerced to implicate the CM in the case and a similar charge raised in a letter, reportedly written by co-accused Sandeep Nair.

The Left government said the court should see through the smokescreen attempted to be created and address the real issue involved.

'That the real issue was the authority,or rather the duty, of Police to register a crime when commission of cognizable offences were brought to its notice; that, the petitioner and other officials under PMLA had compelled and coerced the accused to give statements implicating highly placed personalities in the State Government, which was a heinous offence that needed to be unearthed and the culprits had to be brought to book..,' the government said.

The government said the single judge erred in losing sight of the fact that, in the facts and circumstances of the case at hand, there was every chance that the commission of offences mentioned in FlRs would never reach the Special Court during the course of trial of insofar as the same would gain the attention of the Court neither as part of the prosecution case nor the defence case.

'The learned single judge ought to have taken note of the fact that, in the said circumstances, it was the State Crime Branch which was best placed to verify and prove whether such falsification hadtaken place, through what means and for what purpose,' the government said in its plea.

The single bench had ordered the Special PMLA Court, examining the money trail in the smuggling, to examine the evidence collected by police.

Quashing the FIRs, the court had held that one of the accused had already moved the Special PMLA Court, seeking remedy for his grievance that the ED officials were fabricating evidence.

The ED had alleged that one of the FIRs 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 the first case on March 17 on the basis of a report filed by its team probing the leak of a voice clip, purportedly that of Suresh.

The FIR said the ED officials, while questioning Suresh on August 12 and 13 2020, forced her to give false false statements against the CM in order to 'fabricate evidence.' A case was 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 at Thiruvanathapuram, 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 is 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 its office in Kochi in August 2020 to give statements against Vijayan and some ministers.

Later, two women civil police officers,who were with her when she was questioned by the ED, also reportedly claimed they had heard the ED officials forcing her to name Vijayan. PTI CORR RRT BN BALA BN BALA

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