Gold smuggling: Kerala government opposes ED plea in SC to transfer case to K’taka

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Kerala government objected to Law Enforcement Directorate’s plea to transfer gold smuggling case to Karnataka and said investigative agency’s plea was to tarnish the government of Kerala by raising baseless allegations.

The Kerala government, in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, argued that after completing the investigation and evidence collection and filing an additional complaint, the ED Public Prosecution Service cannot seek the transfer of the case. PMLA to another state simply on the basis of alleged interference in the National Police investigation. The affidavit states that ED’s request to transfer the PMLA case to another state has the ulterior motive of tarnishing the Kerala government by raising baseless allegations.

The Kerala government filed the affidavit in response to ED’s plea requesting the transfer of the case from one state to another as it argued that the petitioner did not plead for the transfer of the trial of the case pending before the Special Court for the PMLA cases. , Ernakulum in the State of Karnataka.

The Kerala government has argued that the allegations in the transfer request are imaginary apprehensions and the motives are based on guesswork and conjecture. ED argued that there were no real reasons stated in the transfer request to transfer the trial of the case from Kerala to Karnataka.

The Government of Kerala maintained that the petitioner has not established with any type of material that the State Police and the Government of Kerala interfered or obstructed the investigation by the Enforcement Directorate. The state government has further maintained that there has not been a single incident in which investigators from the Enforcement Branch have been prevented from carrying out their duties.

The Government of Kerala argued that in this case, the petitioner has not provided any evidence that a fair trial is not possible in the state of Kerala, other than relying on speculation and guesswork, and urged the Supreme Court to dismiss ED’s transfer request.

“It is argued that the transfer is sought on the grounds of the impossibility of a fair trial by a Crown without any evidence is likely to be dismissed,” the affidavit said.

The Law Enforcement Directorate had filed a plea requesting the transfer of the trial in the pending case from the Special Court for PMLA Cases, Ernakulam to a special court to hear PMLA cases in the state of Karnataka.
In the petition submitted by the Enforcement Directorate, the agency sought the transfer of the trial on the grounds that the concerned respondents are influenced and intimidated by threats and false cases by senior officials of Kerala Police and Government of the state at the request of the other defendant, in order to thwart and derail the lawsuit and thereby protect certain powerful figures in high government positions who are implicated in the case.

In 2020, Customs Commissioner (Preventive), Cochin had registered against Sarith PS, former PRO at the UAE Consulate, Swapna Prabha Suresh, former Consul General’s Secretary at the UAE Consulate, Sandeep Nair and others regarding the seizure of 30 KG of 24 karat gold worth Rs. 14.82 crores at Trivandrum International Airport which was camouflaged as diplomatic baggage at the UAE Consulate which is shielded from check-in at the airport in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. This seizure was just the tip of the iceberg and there were 21 such gold consignments that were smuggled into India, amounting to over Rs. 80 crores.

Subsequently, a case was filed by the National Investigation Agency under Sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 against the three individuals on July 10, 2020. The two offenses recorded by the NIA and Customs have offenses under the PMLA, 2002.”

The ED also pointed out that based on the case registered by the NIA, an enforcement case was registered on July 13, 2020 by the Enforcement Branch.

ED argued that on investigation under the PMLA it was revealed that the defendants had committed the offense of money laundering defined in Section 3 and punishable under Section 4 of the PMLA, 2002 and as a result, a prosecution complaint was filed in the Special Court (PMLA), Ernakulam on 6 October 2020.

Subsequently, an additional prosecution complaint was filed under PMLA No. 45, 2002 before the Special Court under PMLA, Ernakulam against Mr Sivasankar on 24 December 2020, accusing Mr Sivasankar in the complaint.

The trial in the case is currently ongoing at the Special Court for PMLA Cases, Ernakulam in Kerala.

Due to the involvement of powerful people in the state of Kerala, from the very beginning there has been a concerted effort by the state apparatus to thwart and derail the investigation and proceedings, said ED.
The ED said it preferred this petition because the State Police, at the request of a highly influential defendant, is attempting to subvert and derail the investigation under the PMLA and that people important companies are under pressure to withdraw.

The ED added, “If the trial continues in Kerala state, the highly influential defendants will create obstacles and the co-defendants will also be pressured and threatened to make false allegations and give false evidence and so do derail the ongoing investigation. and trial.

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