March 20, 2021 4:00:39 am
The Kerala Police have registered a case against officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a central government investigative agency, for allegedly forcing Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case, to implicate Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
In an audio clip that made it to the public domain last November, Swapna — who is in jail since July 2020 — was allegedly heard saying that officials were forcing her to confess she had travelled 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.
Further, in the audio clip, she claimed ED officials said they would make her an approver if she acted according to them.
The crime branch wing of Kerala police initiated an investigation following the release of the audio clip. On Thursday, it registered a case against unnamed ED officials after obtaining a favourable legal opinion. The FIR said the ED officials had forced Swapna to give a statement against the Chief Minister as part of a criminal conspiracy to make false evidence.
The FIR has been registered under IPC sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury), 192 (fabricating false evidence) and 195-A (threatening any person to give false evidence).
Sources in ED said they had not received any official information yet on the FIR registered against them. “’By registering a case, the Kerala Police has created a constitutional crisis. We are awaiting a decision from the Centre. Swapna had not made any such allegation before the court or the investigating agency. The state police have fabricated statements, and attributed these to her. The women constables on guard duty acted on behalf of the ruling party. This action amounts to intimidation,” a source in the agency, who did not wish to be named, said.
On March 5, another accused in the 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 they would also submit an affidavit in the district court following Nair’s letter.
The ED’s investigation on the circumstances under which the audio clip had come in public domain revealed that women constables on guard duty in the jail had allegedly tutored Swapna to say she was being coerced by ED officials. On March 15, the agency wrote a letter to the state police chief Loknath Behera seeking action against the women police constables.
The crime branch, on its part, registered the case based on the deposition by the women constables that they heard Swapna saying she was under pressure to give a statement against the CM. Their FIR against the ED officials came three days after the ED’s letter to the state police chief.
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