The Kerala High Court has set aside the preventive detention imposed on Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the sensational gold smuggling case, under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act ( COFEPOSA). A division bench comprising justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammed Nias CP gave the order on Friday, October 8, in a plea filed by Swapnaâ€™s mother seeking to quash the continuous detention of her daughter under the COFEPOSA.
However, she will continue to remain in jail as she has not secured bail in the case, which was registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). She had been undergoing continuous jail terms since her arrest by the NIA in July 2020, in connection with the case of gold smuggling allegedly using the diplomatic channels. The Customs, probing the gold smuggling case, had invoked provisions of the COFEPOSA against her in October last year.
The national advisory board of the COFEPOSA had approved the proposal submitted by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate probed the case. The National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Customs conducted separate investigations into the racket, which was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020.
The Customs in July last year seized 30.2449 kilograms of gold hidden inside pipe fittings in a diplomatic bag meant for Rashed Khamis Ali Musaiqri Al Ashmia, the acting Consul General of the UAE Consulate in from Thiruvananthapuram International airport. The first arrest in the case was that of Sarith PS, a former Public Relations Officer of the Consulate. Based on his statement to Customs, the names of Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair and Faisal Fareed surfaced. The NIA on July 10 registered a case in the incident. Swapna along with Sandeep, who had managed to flee the state by then, were arrested by the NIA on July 11 from their hideout in Bengaluru. The ED also registered a case on July 13 booking Swapna, Sarith and Sandeep under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
IAS officer Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister was also arrested in connection with the case.
With PTI inputs