Kerala HC judge reveals Rs 25 lakh bribe

Kerala HC judge reveals Rs 25 lakh bribe for ‘verdict’

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/ KOCHI (DHNS/PTI): A senior judge of the Kerala High Court revealed in open court on Monday that he was offered Rs 25 lakh as bribe to ensure a favourable verdict in a gold smuggling case.

The judge, Justice K T Sankaran, made the statement while considering a batch of petitions filed by relatives of the nine accused challenging their detention under COFEPOSA (Conservation Of Foreign Exchange and Prevention Of Smuggling Activities) Act.

Justice Sankaran and Justice A Hariprasad, who comprised the bench hearing the case, recused themselves from the case because of “reasons beyond our control”.

Justice Sankaran said the money was offered through a mediator by one P A Naushad, the key member of the smuggling racket and one of the nine accused, adding that the bribe could have been part of a strategy to force him out of the case.

Justice Sankaran, however, did not comment on the reasons for recusal. The bench order, too, does not mention the bribe offer. The case is related to smuggling of about 2,000 kg of gold through the Cochin International Airport between 2013 and 2015. The smugglers operated from Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district.

The racket was busted in May 2015 after the Special Investigation and Intelligence Branch of the Customs Department seized 13 kg of gold hidden under the seats of a bus ferrying passengers from the aircraft to the terminal.
Invoking provisions under COFEPOSA Act, the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau issued a preventive detention order against the nine accused–Naushad, his brother Faisal, Salim M M, Fazil K B, Yasir Ibn Muhammed, Saifuddin, Jabin K Basheer, Bipin Scaria and Shinoy Mohandas.

In January, the COFEPOSA advisory board, too, confirmed the preventive detention order. A former immigration official, Jabin K Basheer, and the ground handling staff at the airport were also involved in the racket.

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