Setback for CM Vijayan as HC suspends the judicial investigation against ED

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Kerala’s High Court on Wednesday suspended the state government’s May 7 notification setting up a judicial commission to investigate the alleged attempt to implicate CM Pinarayi Vijayan in the gold smuggling case. Earlier this year, state police filed FIRs against unnamed ED officials for “forcing” the gold smuggling scam, accusing Swapna Suresh of making statements against Vijayan. Several IPC articles such as 120-B (criminal association), 167 (official framing incorrect document with intent to cause harm), 192 (fabricating false evidence) and 195-A (threatening anyone with give false evidence) were invoked by the police.

However, the HC had quashed those cases via an order issued on April 16. Subsequently, the LDF government formed a judicial panel headed by retired High Court Judge VK Mohanan to conduct the investigation under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952. Appearing for the ED, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the state government’s decision to investigate a central body was not only against federal standards, but also against section 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act. He argued that the investigation was formed to prevent the ongoing investigation into the Kerala gold smuggling case.

On the other hand, Advocate General Gopalakrishna Kurup stressed that the issue was of public interest. In an interim measure at the ED, a single judge bench of Judge PB Suresh Kumar prevented the Judicial Commission from taking action in the exercise of the powers vested in it. In addition, the HC sent a notice to Pinarayi Vijayan, the Government of Kerala and the Center.

What is the Kerala gold smuggling case?

On July 5, 2020, customs officials seized 30 kg of gold worth Rs 15 crore at Thiruvananthapuram Airport from a diplomatic shipment addressed to a person at the UAE Consulate. Sarith PS who worked at the UAE Consulate was apprehended in this regard. Subsequently, Swapna Suresh, a former consulate employee working as director of Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited and Mr. Sivasankar, the former principal secretary of Kerala CM were also arrested in this case. In January 2020, the NIA filed an indictment before the Special Court.

Claiming that the conspiracy began in June 2019, the agency alleged that the aforementioned people raised funds and smuggled 167 kg of gold between November 2019 and June 2020 via the import shipment addressed to diplomats at the consulate. General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram. In addition, he added that the main defendant planned to smuggle more gold from countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. Holding them responsible for threatening “India’s economic security,” the agency said the investigation of the fugitives and others who facilitated the crime is ongoing.


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