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Kerala HC rejects Swapna Suresh' anticipatory bail plea

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Kochi, Jun 9: The Kerala High Court on Thursday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea moved by Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the sensational gold smuggling in the diplomatic bags case, and co-accused Sarith P S, saying the offences she has been booked for in the conspiracy FIR were bailable and he was not even an accused in the case. Suresh and Sarith had moved a joint plea seeking protection from arrest in the case lodged by police on the complaint of a ruling LDF MLA's complaint alleging conspiracy behind her revelations against him, the Chief Minister and his family.

Kerala HC rejects Swapna Suresh anticipatory bail plea

In his complaint, Left MLA and former minister K T Jaleel alleged conspiracy behind the fresh allegations levelled against him, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family by the key accused in the gold smuggling case. Police, thereafter, lodged a case under Sections 153 (giving provocation with intent to cause a riot) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against Suresh. Justice Viju Abraham dismissed the anticipatory bail plea saying the offences were bailable and Sarith was not even an accused in the case. Meanwhile, State Police Chief Anil Kant has constituted a 12 member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Crime Branch SP S Madhusoodanan and has directed it to expedite the probe in the case and file a report fortnightly.

Besides the Crime Branch SP, the SIT comprises of one ACP, 9 DySPs and one Inspector, officials sources said. The sources also said that the probe would be conducted under the supervision of Crime Branch ADGP Shaik Darvesh Saheb. In their joint plea, Suresh said that while the offences were bailable and Sarith was not accused, she believes that CM Vijayan was out to get them in custody to allegedly coerce her into withdrawing her statement made under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Suresh had told the media on Wednesday that she only disclosed before the court -- in her statement under Section 164 of CrPC -- the other people allegedly involved in the smuggling cases and their "degrees of involvement".

She had said she gave the statement as there were threats to her life and if something happened to her or her family members, she may not have the courage to come forward and speak about the case. In the plea, Suresh also alleged that a person named Shaji Kiran came to her office at Palakkad to settle the issue created as a result of her Section 164 statement. The petition claimed that Kiran was introduced to Suresh by former principal secretary to the Chief Minister M Sivasankar in the past as a person very close to the CM and other Left leaders. It also said that he pressured Suresh and Sarith to surrender before the CM and to give a statement that what she deposed before court was at the instigation of her lawyers, RSS and BJP.

He also allegedly threatened them with dire consequences if they do not do as he has instructed, the petition had further claimed. Hours after the plea was filed in the High Court, Shaji Kiran had come on a TV channel and claimed that Suresh was his friend and he did not pressurise her to withdraw the 164 statement. Kiran had claimed that he was called to her office by Suresh on Wednesday and while there he had only asked why she made the revelations now and whether she was aware of the problems she would have to face as a result of the same. He had also categorically denied having been sent there to settle the issue and said even Suresh might not know such things have been stated in her plea.

In the anticipatory bail plea, Suresh has said that her 10-year-old son is alone at her residence in Palakkad and therefore, if she is arrested and taken into custody for questioning, there would be no one to look after him. "So it is highly necessary in the interest of justice to see that the petitioners are not illegally arrested and taken into custody in the name of questioning as the intention is merely to harass them and coerce them to withdraw the statement given by the 1st petitioner (Suresh) under Section 164 of CrPC," the plea said. After her revelations before the media, subsequent to recording her Section 164 statement, Vijayan had issued a statement dismissing Suresh's claims and allegations as "baseless".

Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was taken into custody by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with another accused Sandeep Nair from Bengaluru on July 11, 2020. The NIA, Enforcement Directorate (ED), and Customs conducted separate probes into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020. Several people, including M Sivasankar and another ex-employee of the UAE Consulate here, Sarith, were arrested in connection with the case. PTI

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