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Government to move SC against Kerala HC relief for Swapna in gold case

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Government to move SC against Kerala HC relief for Swapna in gold case

NEW DELHI: In a politically-sensitive case involving the Left Front government in Kerala, the Centre has decided to move the Supreme Court against an order of the Kerala High Court quashing the detention of Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the diplomatic gold smuggling case, under the stringent Cofeposa (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act).
Suresh was recently released on bail after 15 months in jail by the Kerala HC under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) imposed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The gold smuggling racket was busted in July 2020, leading to seizure of 30 kg gold worth Rs 15 crore from an official consignment of the UAE consulate at Trivandrum International Airport.
Later, Suresh and seven other accused were arrested and a probe by the Enforcement Directorate and the customs department revealed involvement of IAS officer M Sivasankar, then principal secretary of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The customs department has in its recent chargesheet in the case named Sivasankar as an accused who, it claimed, knew about the gold smuggling racket and was involved with Swapna Suresh.
The government has taken an opinion from the law ministry to challenge the Kerala HC order quashing Cofeposa against Suresh.
The quashing of the Cofeposa detention order came on October 8, two days short of Suresh completing an year in detention under the stringent act. Completing one-year detention under Cofeposa allows agencies to confiscate assets of all the accused, their relatives and associates and the burden of proof lies on the accused (that the properties are not illegally acquired from the ‘proceeds of crime’).
In the same case, sources said, the Cofeposa imposed on six others have been retained, raising eyebrows in the government about the dual approach adopted in dealing with the particular case.

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