A special court will pass orders on Kerala gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh’s bail plea on August 10 in a case related to the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a "diplomatic baggage" at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport last month.
Strongly opposing the bail plea, the National Investigation Agency has alleged that Suresh, along with four co-accused, had illegally brought in gold worth over Rs 100 crore through diplomatic channel since November last year.
In a detailed counter to the bail application moved by Suresh, the NIA, probing the sensational case, also submitted that she had knowledge that the smuggled gold would be used for subversive activities and threaten the country's security and monetary stability.
The NIA told the court that in her statement to the agency, Suresh had said that suspended senior IAS officer M Sivasankar was “like a mentor” to her. Sivasankar was suspended after allegations about his links to Suresh surfaced. She also allegedly claimed that she “knew the CM”.
Suresh’s counsel advocate Geo Paul had argued that even after 28 days, the investigators haven’t produced any evidence of economic terrorism other than the alleged confession statement.
"From day one, we have a consistent case that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is not made out. At best, without admitting, this could be an economic offence act. The argument of the NIA is that it will affect the economic stability of the country and will have an impact on the nation’s monetary stability, and that the accused has confessed that she knew the smuggling of gold will have an impact on the economy. That is sufficient according to them. For us, that is not acceptable," he said.
The defence counsel also produced Suresh’s wedding photo in which she was wearing around 5 kg of gold. The defence argued that the gold and cash seized was not from smuggling.
Earlier this week, the NIA had said that the accused -- Sarith, Suresh, Faisal Fareed, Sandeep Nair and Ramees -- colluded and conspired to make use of this channel and smuggle gold along with the materials genuinely required by the foreign diplomats at consulate of UAE in Thiruvananthapuram.
"Hence, instead of sending just the materials required by Consulate staff, co-conspirators, including Fareed in UAE, packed gold into various materials neatly hidden and submitted the baggage to the Air Cargo authorities at UAE," the NIA said.
On earlier occasions, since November, 2019, when such baggage reached Thiruvananthapuram Airport, Sarith collected it and handed over to Nair who in turn had taken it to his house and other places, opened it with the help of Ramees and other associates, the agency said.
"The gold is then handed over to persons known and directed by A-5 to be used in lieu of cash for unlawful activities including funding of such activities," the NIA said and submitted that using this process, the five accused had smuggled in gold around 20 times since November, 2019.
"The total quantity of gold smuggled is to the tune of approximately 200 kg, which is worth more than Rs 100 crore," it said.