The Kerala High Court on Wednesday declined to stay a First Information Report (FIR) registered by the Kerala police against Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials after allegations that gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh was forced to give a statement against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. While the ED had moved the HC to stay the FIR, the state government informed the High Court that it will not take coercive action against the agency.
The state police registered an FIR against ED after a Civil Police Officer (CPO) who was on duty during the interrogation of Swapna Suresh, gave a statement to police that ED officials coerced her to give a statement against CM Pinarayi. Notably, a recent ED statement also quoted Swapna to have said that dollar smuggling was done on the instance of Kerala CM Pinarayi, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan and other ministers.
Appearing for the ED, the Additional Solicitor General partly argued the case. Considering the state government's plea seeking adjournment and stating that no coercive steps would be taken, Justice VG Arun posted the case for next Tuesday for further arguments.
In its plea, the ED alleged that the FIR was registered against its unnamed officials with "ulterior motive of derailing the statutory investigation" under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) into a large economic offence of smuggling of huge quantities of gold.
In its prayer, the ED submitted that the FIR filed be quashed or the investigation be transferred from the state police to the CBI to ensure an impartial investigation. The central agency also wanted the court to stay all further proceedings pursuant to the FIR against ED officials and direct no coercive action against the officers of the Enforcement Directorate 'who are performing their official duties' pending disposal of the petition.
The impugned FIR has been registered with an oblique motive to put pressure on the Investigating Officers, besides also "ensure that trial is not conducted in a fair and impartial manner because certain highly placed persons are involved in this case," the ED submitted.