In a rejoinder affidavit, the ED said that transfer of trial was needed as high-profile persons, including the former principal secretary of the CM, were involved and they were trying to influence the accused and witnesses.
“Transfer of trial is necessary for the following reasons: (a) Sabotaging the investigation will take place, which vitiates fairness in trial (b) Fairness is wiped out as there is misuse of state machinery against the investigation agency and its officers ( c) Interference of the state machinery was arbitrary and unfair when a one-man judicial commission was appointed (d) Influence by the high-profile accused will whittle down fairness in trial (e) False and frivolous statements & complaints by the accused against the investigation officer vitiate fairness (f) To safeguard rule of law and to assure fair trial,” the affidavit said.
The agency urged that the case pending before the Special Court for PMLA cases, Ernakulam, be transferred to a special court in Karnataka on the ground that the respondents (who are co-accused) were being influenced and intimidated through threats and false cases by senior Kerala Police and state government officials.
Countering the contention of the state government that the transfer petition filed by the agency was politically motivated, ED said Swapna Prabha Suresh had given her statement under Section 164 of CrPC and the very fact that the statement was given under Section 164 confirmed that the statement was free and voluntary before an independent judicial forum. “There is no basis on which it can be said that proceedings are politically motivated. On the other hand, the petitioner can make out a clear case of misuse of state power in order to thwart and derail proceedings. The respondent is making mere speculations without any basis,” it said.
“The 4th respondent in the Petition, one of the key accused, who was then the Principal Secretary, is continuing in a key high ranking position in the Government of Kerala even today. If the trial continued in the State of Kerala, the high profile accused will influence the accused persons and witnesses and thereby derail the fair and independent trial of the case. The above two points clearly explains the mala fide action taken by the State against ED and mala fide inaction of not taking any action against the actual culprits. Furthermore, the influence of a Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of the State over the State machinery has to be given due consideration and cannot be discounted,” it said.
Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate here, was taken into custody by the NIA on July 11, 2020. The NIA, ED, and Customs conducted separate investigations into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020.
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