Nothing to substantiate terror funding: NIA court

A view of National Investigation Agency (NIA) Headquarters, in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

The 90 days of National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case has failed to “trace out any material to substantiate” the suspicion that the proceeds of the smuggling were used for terror funding, ordered NIA Special Court, Kochi.

Releasing 10 accused on bail, NIA Special Judge P. Krishnakumar noted that it was obvious from the case diary that some of the petitioners had only funded the frontline accused persons for smuggling the gold through the diplomatic channel and they had conspired with them in that respect.

It was “beyond any dispute that mere act of smuggling gold would not attract the offence of terrorist act, unless it is coupled with certain other elements, which at least suggest the broad probability of an intentional act to threaten the economic security of India,” noted the judge while refusing to accept the prosecution allegation against the petitioners.

The prosecution case was that the accused committed a terrorist act by funding and conspiring with the other accused persons for smuggling gold through diplomatic cargo and hence punishable under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Section 15

A careful reading of Section 15 of the Act leaves no doubt that the act of smuggling of gold to India from abroad would attract the said provision only if it was done ‘with intent to threaten or likely to threaten the economic security of India.’ Also, the intention to destroy economic security, and not just the knowledge, was required to justify the slapping of the Act, the court noted.

However, the court declined bail to P. Mohammed Shafi, Muhammed Ali, and K.T. Sharafuddeen considering the seriousness of the charges against them and the findings against them in the case diary. The bail application of Swapna Suresh and P.S. Sarith were withdrawn by their lawyers on the day.

Even though, noted the judge, the NIA repeatedly alleged that the petitioners acted with an intention to damage the economic security of India, there was no material whatsoever in the case diary to prima facie satisfy the charge.

However, there were sufficient materials to show that the petitioners conspired with some of the accused to smuggle gold to India. Yet, there was “nothing in the case diary to show that the money spend by them was coming from any terror outfits or that they received the gold for transferring it to any such dark forces or even their connection whatsoever with any terrorist forces.” the judge noted.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 10:17:34 PM |

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