Swapna Suresh
File photo of Swapna Suresh, former consulate employee and state IT department consultant who has emerged as the key suspect in the gold smuggling case, in Kerala. Image Credit: ANI

Kochi, Kerala: The Kerala High Court on Friday adjourned until July 14 the hearing on the anticipatory bail application of Swapna Suresh, a key accused who is on the run in the case related to gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage.

A bench of Justice Ashok Menon asked the Central government and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to serve the copies of their statements to the petitioner's counsel.

Counsel for the Central government, Ravi Prakash, submitted that since NIA has taken over the probe, the high court cannot entertain an anticipatory bail application and the matter has to be dealt with by a special court.

"The source information was that three persons, Sarit, Sandeep, and Swapna, were involved in the smuggling. The precise information was that diplomatic cargo was used for smuggling. Statements of Sarit have been recorded under Section 108 of the Customs Act," Prakash said.

"Also, the statement of Sandeep's wife was recorded, which revealed that Swapna Suresh, Sarit Kumar, and Sandeep were involved in gold smuggling using diplomatic cargo. Customs officials tried to serve a summon on Swapna Suresh, but were unsuccessful," he added.

On the lam

Prakash said that Swapna Suresh has switched off her phone and is absconding.

"Her conduct is suspicious. The investigation is in the nascent stage. Substantial recoveries have been made. Statements of witnesses have been recorded, which reveals that Swapna Suresh was involved in arranging diplomatic papers for the smuggling of gold," he said.

The counsel for the Central government said that the custodial interrogation of Swapna Suresh is needed to ascertain her involvement in the matter.

Senior advocate K Ramkumar, who also appeared for the Central government, submitted that the case affects the security of the nation and its economic stability.

The counsel for the NIA has submitted that FIR under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has been registered for raising funds for terrorist activities.

On July 5, around 30kg gold worth Rs15 crore (Rs150 million), concealed in diplomatic consignment, was seized at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport by the Customs Department.

Sarit Kumar, who had previously worked as a public relations officer (PRO) in UAE Consulate-General's office in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested on Monday and remanded for 14 days.