It was already a puzzle how Swapna Suresh, the main accused in the smuggling of gold under diplomatic cover, got herself a plum posting under the IT department. Now, the bail application she had moved on Thursday from her hideout makes it look like the process put in place to recruit her was, more than perplexing, plain absurd.
In her bail application, moved through her lawyer, Swapna says that she continued to do part-time work for the UAE consulate.
Her claim is that it was at the request of the UAE Consul General that she called up customs officials to expedite the release of the baggage. She has no connection whatsoever with the smuggled gold, she said in her bail application.
Besides her bail application, Swapna has also released an audio clip on Thursday in which she quite proudly states she had been involved in very crucial work of the UAE consulate like Corona evacuation and administrative issues, even confidential ones while working at the state government's Space Park.
It was this "part-time job" at the consulate that has shocked three retired DGP-level officials Onmanorama talked to. "Any links to a foreign office or consulate is a disqualification for a government job, not an additional weightage. It is a question of loyalty. By rule, a person with links to a foreign country should be kept out," one of the former DGPs said.
Another former DGP said All India Service Conduct Rules specifically states the government officials were not supposed to maintain good relations with officers in a foreign embassy or consulate. "Here, it is as if they want to flaunt it. Officers are not even supposed to talk to them. Even if they talk, they are bound by law to report what they had heard and communicated," the former cop said.
It was earlier said that Swapna was posted in a junior consultant level at Space Park just one-and-a-half months after she was removed from the UAE consulate. Swapna now claims that she was not asked to leave the consulate. She also says that she had enjoyed an even bigger salary at the UAE consulate. She, however, did not say why she opted for work with a lower pay at Space Park.
Even if she had parted ways with the consulate amicably, there were other reasons why her candidature should have been viewed with suspicion. Still, a police verification, which would have put on record her alleged forgery attempt at AIR India SATS, was not asked for.
A former DGP said it was mandatory to seek police verification for any recruitment. "If police verification is compulsory for PSC postings, it is all the more important when private placement agencies do the recruitment," he said. "It is done even for headload workers," he added.
In Swapna's case, it was a lawyer's verification that was done by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the agency that picked Swapna through a third-party agency. This third-party agency's background checks found in October 2019 that there were no cases against Swapna in any of the courts in the country. Fact is, a case against her has been in the High Court since 2017.
“The Crime Branch cannot be held responsible for a faulty lawyer's report,” a top CB official said.
Significantly, the Crime Branch has found that Swapna was guilty of illegally framing a former colleague for sexual harassment. Yet, instead of including her as an accused, the CB has asked for more time for the investigation that has been on for three years.
Though Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, to demonstrate his neutrality, had said Swapna had been arraigned as an accused, this has not yet been done. “We have to question a few more people before she can be included in the list of the accused,” the CB official said.