- Apprentice Lawyer
- Legal Jobs
Swapna Prabha Suresh, suspected by the Customs department of 'smuggling' 30 kg gold into the Thiruvananthapuram airport, has moved the High Court of Kerala seeking relief from arrest.
Swapna Prabha Suresh, suspected by the Customs department of having smuggled 30 kg gold into the Thiruvananthapuram airport, has moved the High Court of Kerala seeking pre-arrest bail (Swapna Prabha Suresh v. Customs Preventive Commissionerate, Cochin).
In her plea, Suresh maintains her innocence and narrates that she was engaged by the acting-Consulate-General of UAE at Thiruvananthapuram during the COVID-19 outbreak on a “Work on Request Basis."
Suresh was appointed on these terms more than a year after she resigned from her position there. In the interim, she states that she was an employee of Price Waterhouse Coopers Ltd.
In her latest role at the Consulate, she states that the Acting-Consulate-General directed her to liaise with the Department of Customs about delays in the consignment of certain diplomatic cargo.
This was a role normally performed by a Public Relations Officer (PRO) per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, she submits. After three days, the Consul received an email informing him of the arrival of his cargo, which he later verified.
Suresh goes on to submit that she was asked to prepare a letter “seeking for the re-export” of the cargo addressed to the Assistant Commissioner of Customs, Cargo Complex.
In response to the letter, the Consul was called-upon a second time to verify the contents of the cargo. When the cargo was opened, in the presence of a Senior Official form the High Commissioner of Delhi, the suspected “smuggled” gold was found concealed in the cargo, Suresh says.
After the gold was seized, the Customs department raided the residence of the PRO and took him into custody.
Averring that she only contacted the Assistant Commissioner of Customs to inquire about the status of the Consul’s cargo, Suresh has raised grievance that the media is spreading false information of her involvement in the “smuggling activity."
She states that the media has gone to the extent of alleging a nexus between her and the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office, in an attempt to sensationalise the issue.
In her plea, Suresh also highlights that the media has been exhibiting her photographs in violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Sanjay Chandra v. CBI, wherein the Court held that a Judge was not to be influenced by public sentiment.
Apprehending her arrest for cognizable, non-bailable offences under Sections 104 (6) (c) (declaration as non-bailable the import/export of goods of value greater than one crore rupees without a customs declaration) and 135 (evasion of duty) of the Customs Act, Suresh has now moved the High Court for pre-arrest bail.
In her plea, Suresh asserts that she has been falsely implicated in the smuggling case. Undertaking to appear in Court whenever required, she adds that she has two children one of whom is studying in the 3rd standard.
Suresh’s bail plea is likely to be heard tomorrow.
On a related note, the National Investigating Agency has now reportedly been entrusted with the investigation of the gold smuggling case.