The NIA special court in Kochi today denied bail to Swapna Suresh, the second accused in the Kerala diplomatic gold smuggling case. The court further added that provisions of the anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), will apply in her case.
Swapna Suresh’s counsel opposed the application of UAPA against her client arguing that the case pertains to an “economic offence and is not terror related”.
The National Investigation agency, probing the case, opposed it, saying major proceeds from smuggling were used to fund anti-national activities in south India.
Earlier the premier agency told the court that it suspected the proceeds from the gold smuggling case might be used for terror funding.
The agency invoked Section 16 and 17 of the UAPA, which prescribes punishment for raising funds for terrorist activities.
After preliminary investigation, the NIA said, it found one of the accused KT Ramees, who is in custody now, was in touch with some fundamentalist organizations. He also undertook many foreign trips, including to Africa and he was suspected to be a part of an international smuggling and drug racket, the NIA added.
When the investigating team opened the two bank lockers of Suresh last month, it reportedly found Rs 1 crore in cash and 2 kg of gold. These lockers were in the joint name of Suresh and a chartered accountant. The latter reportedly told the team that he was allegedly asked by Sivasankar to help Suresh to open lockers three years ago.
The court noted that that there is evidence in the case diary that gold was smuggled several times in diplomatic baggage and that the accused knew that this was a threat to the economic security of the country. “The charges which the NIA imposed will remain the same. 43D (5) of UAPA shall remain in force,” it noted.
The matter, which pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels, had come to light after customs in Thiruvananthapuram busted 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crores, smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage.