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Kerala HC reserves judgement in appeals filed by accused in gold smuggling case

ANI | Updated: Oct 25, 2021 19:52 IST

Kochi (Kerala) [India], October 25 (ANI): Kerala High Court on Monday reserved its judgment in the appeals filed by two accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case in the case registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The appeals were filed by the prime accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS against the verdict of the special NIA court that dismissed the bail applications of both. High Court's Division Bench comprising Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice C Jayachandran made it clear that it will pronounce the verdict within a week.
While hearing, the accused contended, "NIA had failed to make a case for prosecuting the petitioners under the UAPA. The offence alleged against them was gold smuggling while UAPA predominantly dealt with the offence of counterfeiting high-quality currency. The prosecution case even if proved, only amounts to an offence of smuggling of gold, which will come under the Customs Act and not UAPA. It is only a Customs offence, at the worst. And for the Customs offence, the petitioners have already been granted bail."

"There is no legal evidence of an expert witness that the alleged activity will lead to the destruction of economic stability under section 15 of UAPA. The final report filed by the NIA at the Special Court does not include any evidence whatsoever that such proceeds have been utilised to finance terrorism as alleged," said the petitioner.
"While some of the accused in the matter were released on bail already, the rest were denied bail on the sole ground that a deeper probe was necessary for the facts narrated in the FIR, regarding funding terrorism and involvement of transnational forces. From the final report, it becomes clear that no such links with terrorism or transnational links could be established by the investigating agencies," they added.
"Swapna Suresh is a lady, a mother of two children, a 19-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. She suffers from various ailments like cardiac arrests, epilepsy and recurring mental depression. She has a limited role in the case and no criminal antecedents. The trial was highly unlikely to commence in the near future considering the number of witnesses and documents involved in the matter," the petitioner said further.
Meanwhile, the NIA submitted in the Court that, "Although a bare reading of the UAPA and the associated rules would give an impression that the acts of the accused will not be covered by it, one had to look into the legislative intent behind its implementation. From the rules, it is clear that the threshold for an economic offence is one lakh, but here the gold seized would amount to crores of rupees. We should look at what the legislature intended to execute by the Rules rather than applying it mechanically." (ANI)