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Gold smuggling case: SC agrees to hear ED's plea seeking transfer of trial from Kerala

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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a petition filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has sought transfer of the trial in the gold smuggling case from Kerala to Karnataka, claiming a “free and fair trial” in the case is not possible in the state.

A bench comprising Chief Justice U U Lalit and Justice S R Bhat issued notice to the state of Kerala seeking its response to the Enforcement Directorates plea and posted the matter for hearing on October 20.

The bench also allowed the application filed by the state of Kerala seeking impleadment in the matter.

The ED has alleged in its plea there is a close nexus between the accused and top officials and functionaries of the Kerala government. One of the key accused in the case, Swapna Suresh, had earlier appeared before the Kochi unit of the ED after being summoned by the probe agency in view of her statement before a magistrates court under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was taken into custody by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with another accused Sandeep Nair from Bengaluru on July 11, 2020.

The NIA, ED, and Customs conducted separate investigations into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020.

Several people, including M Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister, and another ex-employee of the UAE Consulate Sarith P S were arrested in connection with the case.

While issuing notice on the transfer petition filed by the ED, the bench said the counsel appearing for the state of Kerala is at liberty to put in an affidavit in response by October 14.

It said the rejoinder, if any, be filed by October 17.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)

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