The Kerala High Court on Wednesday rejected a plea seeking a central agency probe into recent consultancy appointments in various departments of the state government in the backdrop of the recent gold smuggling case.
While rejecting the plea, a division bench of the court headed by Chief Justice S Manikumar observed that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe was on in the smuggling case and there was no need for any intervention at this juncture.
In his plea, petitioner Michael Varghese, an activist and journalist, sought the court to give a direction to the investigating agency to also include chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office in the ambit of probe alleging some of the recent consultancy appointments were dubious and mired in controversy. He sought a separate probe into this issue.
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But, the court said the NIA can probe all these angles and there was no need for any intervention now. “Probe has just started. Let the agency probe all angles in the case. There is no need of any intervention now,” it observed.
Meanwhile, the customs department arrested two more persons in connection with the gold smuggling case alleging they were part of the thriving racket. They also raided the house of the gunman of the consulate office who was hospitalised after an alleged suicide attempt.
The customs had seized 30 kg gold from a consignment that came in the name of an official of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5. Later, the case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Many other central agencies including the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are involved in the investigation. The NIA has arrested four persons and customs has arrested 15 in connection with the case so far.
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In the remand extension petition for the four accused including Swapna Suresh before a special court in Ernakulam on Tuesday, the NIA said the accused were part of a larger conspiracy that aimed at financing terrorism in the country. The CM’s powerful principal secretary M Sivasankar and his IT fellow Arun Balachandran, were sacked after their alleged links with Suresh surfaced.
“The accused has conspired together and separately at various places in Kerala to damage the monetary stability of India by destabilizing the economy and it is suspected that they had used the proceeds of smuggling for financing terrorism through various means,” the remand report said.
This is the first time that the NIA has taken up a smuggling case in the country.