Kerala High Court grants bail to accused Swapna Suresh and others in Kerala Gold Smuggling case

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The Kerala High Court today granted bail to the prime accused Swapna Suresh, Sarith P.S. and others in the sensational Kerala gold smuggling case where Suresh and others face charges by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). 

Suresh, who has been behind the bars since June 2020, has been granted relief on a bail bond of ₹25 lakh and two solvent sureties.

She has earlier already secured bail in cases filed by the Customs Department and Enforcement Directorate (ED). The case involved the seizure of 30 kg gold that had reached the UAE consulate in the state capital of Thiruvanthapuram camouflaged as diplomatic consignment.

The bench comprising Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice C Jayachandran had reserved its judgment in the appeals filed by Suresh and another accused Sarith PS against the verdict of the special NIA court that had dismissed their bail applications.

During the hearing, the accused had said the 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," Suresh’s lawyer had argued in court.

"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," the lawyer said.

"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," the petition had said.