Kerala High Court directs Crime Branch to not take coercive steps against ED officials

KOCHI:  The High Court of Kerala on Wednesday asked the Crime Branch not to proceed with any coercive action in connection with the case filed against the officers of Enforcement Directorate (ED) for allegedly forcing Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the gold smuggling case, to give false statement against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

 Though the Enforcement Directorate counsel repeatedly prayed for an interim stay on the investigation by Crime Branch, the court declined.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the ED, but still could not get a stay. But the court, while posting the case for further hearing on April 8 when the final orders would be passed, directed the Crime Branch not to record any arrest or take any such strong measures against any ED official.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had, earlier in March, given the green signal to the Crime Branch to register cases against ED officials based on a complaint by two women police officials that gold smuggling prime accused Swapna Suresh was asked loaded questions and put under pressure to name Vijayan.

According to the two women police officials, who were providing security to Swapna during her judicial custody, and it was during this period that they heard the ED allegedly pressing her to name Vijayan.

Several Union Ministers including Home Minister Amit Shah had come down heavily on this move by the Kerala government. But CM Pinarayi Vijayan, sticking to his guns and making it an election campaign issue, said he will not be cowed down by threats and these are all undesirable acts by central agencies to discredit and malign his government in the run-up to the April 6 polls.

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