Kerala gold smuggling case: NIA court denies bail to Swapna Suresh, but finds no terror angle
NIA Special Judge P. Krishnakumar noted that there were sufficient grounds for believing that the accusations made against the petitioner were prima facie true
Swapna Suresh, the second accused in the diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case, was denied bail as the trial court court found that there were sufficient grounds to believe that the accusations made against her were prima facie true.
While holding that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act will hold good against her considering the charges of attempting to destabilise the economy of the country as defined under the Act, the NIA Special Judge noted that currently there was nothing on record to show that the proceeds of the gold smuggling were used or intended to be used for funding terrorism. It is a matter that requires deeper probe by the NIA considering the international connections in the case, it said.
The NIA had invoked Section 16 (punishment for terrorist act) 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist) and 18 (punishment for conspiracy).
The court noted that there was nothing on record to prove that the accused or her associates had any connection, directly or indirectly, with terrorists or terrorist organisations.
The trial court found weight in the arguments of the investigation agency an act of terrorism was not needed to attract the provisions of the Act. The NIA had also contended that the accused had the knowledge and intention that the smuggling would upset the economic security of the country. The economic security, as defined under the Act, included financial, monitory and fiscal stability among other things, it argued.
The judge relied on the entries in the case diary presented by the NIA before the court and the statements given by the accused to the investigation officer that while smuggling gold, she was aware that her acts would leave a serious damage on the economy of the country.
The judge didn't find acceptable the arguments of the defence lawyer that the case was a politically motivated one and Swapna was caught in between the political battle between the State and the Central governments. The Chief Minister himself had written to the Prime Minister seeking comprehensive inquiry into the smuggling case, the judge pointed out.
There were evidences that Swapna had intervened on behalf of the UAE Consulate for the release of the cargo from the airport. The statement of the wife of the 4th accused in the case given to the Customs, which was produced by the prosecution, also mentions about the role of Swapna in gold smuggling, the court noted.