Panel to check bid to implicate CM

The State government on Monday fixed the terms of reference for the judicial commission examining the alleged attempt on the part of the Customs Department and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to falsely implicate Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the UAE gold smuggling case.

The government had named retired High Court judge V.K. Mohanan as the Commission of Inquiry (COI). He would also probe the alleged jurisdictional overreach and pronounced political bias of the agencies. The government seemed encouraged that the scandal had scarcely dented its electoral prospects.

It alleged that the agencies had illegally diverted the investigation into the smuggling of gold via the UAE consulate’s diplomatic channel to politically target the Left Democratic Front government ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections. It pointed to a conspiracy and warranted a judicial inquiry given the public import.

Audio clip

The government tasked the COI to inquire into the facts gold-smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh had “stated” in a recorded audio clip. She had revealed an attempt to implicate the Chief Minister in the case falsely. The COI would probe the circumstances that led to such a statement.

The COI would also probe the circumstances that prompted Sandeep Nair, another accused in the gold smuggling case, to reveal to the District Judge, Ernakulam, in writing, of an attempt to falsely implicate members of the Council of Ministers and Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan in serious criminal cases.

The COI would probe whether the episodes revealed a conspiracy to frame the State’s political executive. In the event the commission stumbled on such a plot, it should identify the conspirators.

December deadline

The government also allowed the COI to probe “other facts incidental, ancillary or connected with” its subject of inquiry. The commission should conclude the investigation by December and submit its report to the government.

In an explanatory note, the government said the Customs and the Enforcement Directorate had discarded professionalism and pursued a path of political partisanship to ensnare the State’s elected political executive in criminal cases.

The officers had strayed from their original purpose of finding the source of the contraband gold, its intended recipients, and those who facilitated and profited from the racket.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress had exploited the scam and “findings” of the Central agencies to unleash a tsunami of invective against the government in the run-up to the Assembly polls. The Opposition parties had also unleashed a storm of street protests to put the government on the defence.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 8:39:48 PM |

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