Kerala Assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan will not appear before the Customs department for interrogation in connection with the dollar smuggling case. Reportedly, Sreeramakrishnan has informed the central agency that he cannot appear as he is unwell.
On April 1, the agency has asked him to report for questioning at their Kochi office on April 8 after the elections. While the agency had sent a notice on March 12, Sreeramakrishnan refused to cooperate. The second notice follows the submission of Swapna Suresh’s confidential statements with the Kerala High Court.
While the agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate (ED), had sent letters for his appearance, he had avoided them citing that he assembly duties and then election responsibilities. He had written to the agencies to defer the questioning to a later date preferably after the elections. Moreover, the party leadership had also asked the MLA to wait until the elections, since appearing during the campaigning might affect the party’s prospects.
The Customs’ charge against Sreeramakrishnan includes smuggling dollars to invest money in a university abroad in his name. Swapna claimed that there were widespread irregularities concerning this development, which led the Customs to target the Speaker. Moreover, in the ED’s submission in Court, Swapna said that Sreeramakrishnan had called her to his flat “for some personal dirty intentions”. According to Swapna, Sreeramakrishnan had told her that the flat in Chakka was his hideout and that she had not gone alone despite several calls from the Speaker.
Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court will hear the ED’s petitions to quash the cases filed by the Kerala Crime Branch against the central agency officials. The Crime Branch filed the case against ED for allegedly forcing the gold smuggling accused to implicate the chief minister and two other leaders.
The Kerala High Court asked the police to not investigate the case until the hearing takes place. Following the Kerala Police’s assurance that they will stay the investigation, Justice VG Arun deferred the hearing of the case.
The Crime Branch filed FIRs after Gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair filed separate complaints alleging that ED officials were forcing them to implicate the Kerala Chief Minister.