Updated: March 27, 2021 7:39:51 am
The Kerala cabinet Friday decided to institute a judicial probe into the alleged disclosure by two key accused in the gold smuggling case that the Enforcement Directorate “forced” them to “confess” against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Sources in the Chief Minister’s Office said the order regarding the judicial commission would be issued only after the consent of the Election Commission as the model code of conduct is in force in the state.
“This is not a probe against any central agency (ED). The probe would be to find the truth behind the disclosures of the accused (a voice clip and a letter to a district judge). The judicial probe would cover conspiracy angle, if any,’’ a CMO official said.
The decision of the CPI(M)-led government to go for a judicial probe comes a week after the state police registered a case against unnamed officials of the ED, saying these officials forced the key accused, Swapna Suresh, to make a statement against Vijayan as part of a criminal conspiracy to create false evidence.
The government appointed retired high court judge V K Mohan to the probe commission.
In an audio clip that made it to the public domain last November, Swapna—in jail since July 2020—is allegedly heard saying that “they” (officials) were “forcing her to confess” she had traveled to the UAE with M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, also an accused in the case, for financial negotiations meant for the CM. She claimed the officials said they would make her an approver if she acted according to their instructions.
On March 5, another accused in gold smuggling case, Sandeep Nair, had written to the district judge in Ernakulam, alleging that ED officials were forcing him to name the Chief Minister in the case.
ED officials said the accused were attempting to divert attention. Besides, the accused had not made such an allegation against the officials in the court, they said. Officials also raised doubts over the intention of the accused Sandeep writing a letter to the court earlier this month.
According to the ED, its probe into the allegation revealed that the audio purportedly attributed to the accused woman was recorded when she was in the custody of ED on the 12th and 13th of August last year. It was then revealed that a woman constable on guard duty had allegedly tutored Swapna to speak to a person outside (later identified as a policeman) over a phone (given by the constable) that she would be made an approver in the case if she confessed against the Chief Minister. The ED had complained to the state police chief seeking action against the constable.
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