Kerala

Court rejects ED’s bid to access Swapna’s confession

The Enforcement Directorate's (ED) attempt to access the copies of the confessional statements of Swapna Suresh and P.S. Sarith, which were given to the Customs, has failed as a trial court rejected its application.

The ED approached the Economic Offences Court, Ernakulam, seeking certified copies of the statements of Swapna and Sarith, which were recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Swapna and Sarith are the key accused in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling and foreign currency smuggling cases.

Incidentally, the recent revelations made by the Customs Commissioner in an affidavit filed before the High Court quoting the statement of Swapna that she smuggled out U.S. dollar at the instance of the Chief Minister and Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan had created a political furore in the State.

The ED, which submitted that it too had booked cases against the accused under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in relation to the smuggling act and the consequent seizure of unaccounted income, wanted to access the statements as it felt that the information would be helpful for its successful investigation.

However, quoting an office memorandum and a judicial order issued by the Kerala High Court, C. Deepu, the Economic Offences judge, rejected the application.

The High Court had observed that the copy of the statement shall not be given to anyone other than the investigating officer who may require it for his investigation. It shall not be made accessible to others unless it is made public by the investigation officer by making it part of the records of the case without any reservation, the judge noted.

The court further noted that the investigating officer shall not directly or indirectly disclose the contents of the statement issue if it is against public interest.

“It is discernible from the observations of the High Court as the statements of Sarith and Swapna were recorded in connection to the smuggling cases at the instance of the investigating officer of Customs. This court is unable to issue copy of such statements to the investigating officer of the ED who investigates the case relating to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,” the court noted.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 10:02:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/court-rejects-eds-bid-to-access-swapnas-confession/article34013466.ece

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