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Kerala to conduct judicial probe against central agencies

Source: PTI
Last updated on: March 26, 2021 20:48 IST
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Days after the Crime Branch registered an first information report against some Enforcement Directorate officials, the Left front government in Kerala on Friday decided to recommend a judicial inquiry against central agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate, for "derailing the probe" in the gold smuggling and dollar cases.

IMAGE: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Photograph: PTI Photo.

The decision in this regard was taken at a special cabinet meeting here chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, online.

It was also decided to appoint Justice (Retd) K V Mohan to head the commission.

The government is, however, awaiting clearance from the Election commission on the matter as the model code of conduct is in force in view of the April 6 state assembly polls,government sources told PTI.

"The state cabinet has decided to recommend a judicial probe against the central agencies for derailing the probe in the gold and dollar smuggling matters.Since there is a model code of conduct in force, the commission will be appointed only after seeking permission from the Election Commission," the sources said.

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the judicial probe against the ED was the biggest joke of the century.

 

"All they can do is to give salary to a retired judge from the state exchequer. Has any judicial commission ever found any culprit and brought them before justice? This is the last resort of the government," Muraleedharan told
reportersat Kozhikode.

Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala ridiculed the government's decision.

"The state government's move declaring a judicial probe against the central agencies' investigation is a joke. This needs to be seen just as a campaign stunt during this election time," the Congress leader said.

"The central agencies are probing gold smuggling and dollar smuggling and I don't understand how a judicial probe is possible under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952," Chennithala said.

He termed the action irrational and ridiculous."This is to fool the people during elections," he added.

Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, is the prime accused along with two others in the case relating to seizure of 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14.82 crore in a diplomatic baggage from the air cargo at the International airport in Thiruvananthapuram last July.

Besides ED, the Customs and National Investigation Agency are also inquiring into the smuggling case and the Dollar case relating to alleged smuggling of USD 1,90,000 (equivalent to Rs 1.30 crore) by a former finance head of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram to Muscat in Oman.

Prime accused in the gold smuggling case Swapna Suresh and Sarith P S are also allegedly involved in the dollar case.

The Crime Branch had earlier filed a case against some ED officials for allegedly forcingSuresh to give statements against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The probe agency has approached the Kerala high court seeking quashing of the FIR registered against its officials which, it said, was done with "ulterior motive of derailing the statutory investigation" under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act into a large economic offence of smuggling of huge quantities of gold.

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