Kerala High Court on Thursday declined to stay the FIR filed against the unnamed officials of the Enforcement Directorate. The court has also directed that police should not take any coercive action against the officials until the next date of hearing.
As per the FIR filed by the Crime Branch, the ED officials had coerced Swapna Suresh to make false allegations against chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other ministers in connection to the gold smuggling case.
ED deputy director P. Radhakrishnan has filed a petition before Kerala High Court seeking directions to quash the state police FIR or alternatively to transfer the probe to CBI.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Enforcement Directorate, contended before the Justice V.G. Arun that the FIR should be stayed because the police case was hampering the ED’s investigations in the gold smuggling case. He further argued that the actions of the state police go against cooperative federalism.
“If this is permitted, there will be complete absence of rule of law. Can local police go behind NIA officials and arrest them. If that is so, fair and impartial investigation will not be possible,” SG Mehta said.
“She (Swapna Suresh) is not an illiterate lady without legal assistance. She has not given any statement that she was pressurised. She had opportunities to speak about alleged coercion before court. She did not have to wait for audio recording. She had defended herself on merits during bail plea. On August 17, court specifically asked whether she had any complaint and she said she did not. Two invisible lady constables have now said ‘in our presence she was pressurised,” he argued.
SG called the police investigation absurd. He further argued that Code of Criminal Procedure does not envisage a situation in which one investigation agency is conducting inquiry, and another agency also gets involved and investigates it.
“If this kind of FIR is allowed, it is end of rule of law whereby one agency would nullify evidence collected by another agency before court examines it. If this is allowed, central agencies cannot fearlessly investigate matters in State,” Mehta said.
Advocate Hari Raval appearing for Kerala state, submitted that the petition was not maintainable as proper procedure had not been followed while the petitioner was filing it. He further argued, “If the petition is filed to protect the government department, then procedure requires sanction be taken from the dept and should be clearly mentioned. The petition filed is not in the manner prescribed.”
He further added, “Statements of Swapna Suresh or other accused is not subject matter of probe. Our case is that in questioning those accused, there was attempt to create false evidence against some other highly placed dignitaries. Hence, it is wrong to say State has no jurisdiction.”
Citing the reason that due to paucity of time, the hearing cannot be completed within one day, the court adjourned the matter till April 8.
“We have to see the outcome of the hearing, to ascertain how far it is affecting the ED case. As the matter is being adjourned due to the paucity of time, I deem it appropriate that the investigating agency does not proceed with coercive steps in respect of the proceedings pending before this court,” Justice Arun said.