Crime Branch can go ahead with case against ED, rules Kerala HC

Swapna Suresh | Pinarayi Vijayan
Swapna Suresh and Pinarayi Vijayan

Kochi: The Enforcement Directorate got a jolt as the Kerala High Court ruled on Wednesday that the state police's Crime Branch wing can go ahead in its probe against the Central financial probe agency, based on a complaint received against them.

The court order came on a petition filed by the ED against the Crime Branch's move and seeking a stay on the entire proceedings.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the ED, but still could not get a stay.

But the court, while posting the case for further hearing on April 8 when the final orders would be passed, directed the Crime Branch not to record any arrest or take any such strong measures against any ED official.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had, earlier in March, given the green signal to the Crime Branch to register cases against ED officials based on a complaint by two women police officials that gold smuggling prime accused Swapna Suresh was coerced to give statements and put under pressure to name Vijayan.

According to the two women police officials, who were providing security to Swapna during her judicial custody, and it was during this period that they heard the ED allegedly pressing her to name Vijayan.

The Crime Branch has been investigating an audio clip, alleged to be of Swapna Suresh accusing the ED of forcing her to give testimony against the chief minister. Swapna had confirmed that it was her voice in the clip. Later, a police officer, who provided security to her when ED officers had interrogated her, had claimed that Swapna was "forced to incriminate powerful people in the inter-linked gold and dollar smuggling cases."

Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate, is the prime accused in the case relating to the smuggling of gold worth 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14.82 crore in a diplomatic baggage and 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.

Numerous Union Ministers including Home Minister Amit Shah had come down heavily on this move by the Kerala government.

But Vijayan, sticking to his guns and making it an election campaign issue, said he will not be cowed down by threats and these are all undesirable acts by central agencies to discredit and malign his government in the run-up to the April 6 polls.

Vijayan last week also ordered a judicial probe into the same issue.

(With inputs from IANS)

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