A Special NIA court granted bail to 10 accused in the case related to gold smuggling via diplomatic channels in Kerala. The court accepted the bail pleas of 10 of the accused, who are storekeepers, jewellery store owners found to have purchased the smuggled gold for selling. The NIA court granted their bail as there was no proof furnished that the accused were aware of the nature of the gold that they purchased, according to sources.
The court has granted bail to Syed Alavi, Abdu Peedi, Hamjad Ali, Abdul Hamid, Jifsal, Muhammed Abu Shameem, Mushaf, Abdul Azees, Abu Backer and Muhammed Anvar. Meanwhile, key accused Swapna Suresh and PS Sarith withdrew their bail plea on Thursday. The counsel of both the accused withdrew their bail application a few hours before the court heard the bail pleas of all the accused. Swapna’s lawyer withdrew her bail application, followed by Sarith’s counsel.
According to reports, the legal counsel of both the accused decided to withdraw the bail plea, as they were aware that it was unlikely that the court would accept them. On Wednesday, the court accepted NIA’s petition asking to extend the remand period of the accused to 180 days. The NIA was earlier allowed custody of the accused for a maximum of 90 days.
Considering this decision, Swapna and Sarith’s counsels believed that the court would deliver a verdict in favour of the accused. Although Swapna was granted bail in the case registered by the Customs as well as that of the Enforcement Directorate, it was unlikely that she would be released from prison even if she secured a bail from the NIA court. She is currently serving one year of preventive detention under the COFEPOSA Act (The Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities, 1974). Sandeep Nair who is also an accused in the case and who had given a voluntary confession of the crime under section 164 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) too is serving COFEPOSA detention.
On Thursday, a Special PMLA court (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) asked the Enforcement Directorate to not arrest M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the CMO, in connection with the gold smuggling case before October 23.
Sivasankar’s legal counsel told the court that the former bureaucrat was willing to cooperate with the investigation in the case and also appear before the agency for interrogation.