Kerala

Court picks holes in Customs affidavit

The Customs has come under fire from the Economic Offences Court, Ernakulam, for the “absence of fundamental elements in the affidavit”, including how M. Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, abetted the smuggling activities in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case.

It was while considering the custodial application of Mr. Sivasankar that the court pulled up the agency for its omissions in the affidavit and remand reports.

“It is not discernible from the primary records that why accomplices like Swapna Prabha Suresh and Sarith have chosen Accused Number 23, M. Sivasankar, for using his influence to clear the smuggled gold. Nothing is stated in the affidavit to the effect that under what capacity that Mr. Sivasankar could successfully abet the commission of smuggling through diplomatic channel,” the court observed in its order.

Crucial details

The judge noted that the records placed before it did not disclose any personal or professional details of Mr. Sivasankar other than this residential address. The high official designation held by him previously and his alleged nexus with other accused etc. have not found place in the affidavit and the remand application, the court criticised.

C. Deepu, the judge of the Economic Offences Court, expressed his “deep sense of dissatisfaction about the aforesaid material omissions that are not expected in a case like this.”

Forensic evidence

The court noted that the forensic evidences collected after retrieving the data from Mr. Sivasankar’s mobile phone persuaded the investigating officer to hold that he was involved in the smuggling operation by away of abetting the mastermind.

After retrieving the deleted WhatsApp chats and other history, previous statements of the accused were cross-checked in the case and the investigating officer arrived at the definite conclusion that Swapna had actually given the statement purposefully to exonerate Mr. Sivasankar for the reasons known to her.

The investigating officer has justifiable reason to arraign Mr. Sivasankar as the accused, the judge noted.

The mode of abatement and the quid pro quo of smuggle-deal etc. are required to be investigated. An intensive probe is required to find out all the stakeholders of the deal, the order said.

The court allowed the Customs the custody of Mr. Sivasankar for five days.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 1:10:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/court-picks-holes-in-customs-affidavit/article33179649.ece

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