KOCHI: The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences) has said the statements given by Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS, accused in the Kerala gold smuggling scandal, revealed the involvement of big sharks who operated the smuggling of foreign currencies and gold using diplomatic baggage.
This was stated in the order on Tuesday granting custody of former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar to the Customs for seven more days till December 7 as part of the probe in the gold smuggling case.
The Customs had submitted three statements to the court made by Swapna and Sarith in its custody from November 27 to 29. Both were arrested by the Customs in two cases -- smuggling of gold via the diplomatic channel and $190,000 smuggled out by a former employee of the UAE Consulate to Cairo last year.
"The said statements would reveal the involvement of big sharks who allegedly manipulated their solemn duties and thereby operated the smuggling of foreign currencies (their names and other details are withheld to ensure confidentiality). Their alleged involvement is shocking to the conscience and definitely, the intrinsic probe is necessary to corroborate the allegation. As per the new revelations, these persons have developed a strong nexus with the officials of the UAE consulate and thereby operated smuggling activities previously, without being caught," said the order.
According to the court, after recording the statement of Swapna, her call details were checked. The call data records of Sivasankar were also verified to ascertain his involvement. "Truly, the forensic evidence collected after retrieving the data from his mobile phone, persuaded the investigating officer to hold that Sivasankar is involved in the smuggling operation by way of abetting the mastermind. After retrieving the deleted WhatsApp chats and other history, previous statements of the accused were cross-checked. Thus, the investigating officer arrived at a definite conclusion that Swapna had actually given the statement purposefully to exonerate Sivasankar for reasons known to her. In this context, the investigating officer has a justifiable reason to arraign Sivasankar as accused," the court said.
The court claimed that the offence alleged is serious in nature since the smuggling of huge quantities of gold through the diplomatic channel is unprecedented. Admittedly, at the time of the alleged commission of offence, M Sivasankar was holding the post of Principal Secretary. "Certainly, the investigation is likely to be extended to unearth the complicity of all culprits. The mode of abetment and quid pro quo of smuggling are required to be investigated for getting more clarity," the court observed.
Sivasankar who was lodged at Borstal School near Kakkanad District Jail was examined through a WhatsApp call. The court ordered to produce him again on expiry of his custody at 11 am on December 7. Earlier, Sivasankar was questioned in custody by the Customs for five days. His bail petition will be considered by the court on Thursday.