The Kerala High Court has dismissed a writ petition filed in a matter relating to gold smuggling that sought a probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Customs against Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The plea alleged the involvement of political functionaries including the CM in the gold smuggling case which the Court found it be of no merits.

A Single Bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas held, “On an appreciation of the above circumstances, it is evident that even the very apprehension expressed by the petitioner regarding the non-conduct of a fair and proper investigation is without any basis. The Customs as well as the Enforcement Directorate, have conducted or are conducting proper investigations. There are also no reasons to assume that if the involvement of any person is revealed in the investigation, they will not be proceeded against. For, the dictum “Be you ever so high, the law is above you” applies with equal vigour to all, irrespective of status or position.”

The Bench observed that the relief of fair and just investigation and for monitoring of the investigation cannot arise.

Advocate Shajahan K.M. appeared for the petitioner while DSG S. Manu, SC P.G. Jayashankar, Senior AG K. Gopalakrishna Kurup, APP P. Narayanan, and Senior GP V. Manu appeared for the respondents.

Brief Facts -

The petitioner sought a direction to the Customs and Enforcement Directorate, Government of India to conduct a fair and time-bound investigation into allegations of money laundering and illegal gold smuggling, taking into consideration the statements made by the accused with regard to the involvement of high-ranking political functionaries of the State. He also sought further directions to monitor the investigation by the said two agencies.

As per the petitioner, the Customs and Preventive Commissionerate had seized 30 kgs of gold from diplomatic cargo. Despite such allegations, no investigation was conducted by the Customs, especially into the allegations against Chief Minister Sri. Pinarayi Vijayan and curiously, he was left out of the investigation.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case noted, “The Division Bench, after exhaustively considering the matter, held that the remedies evolved by writ jurisdiction are of an extraordinary nature, and circumstances did not warrant issuance of directions sought for. … When a public cause is sought to be agitated by a person, and the same is rejected after detailed consideration, it is not open for another member of the public to agitate the very same issue merely by a change in the name of the petitioner.”

The Court further asserted that if another member of the public is aggrieved by such a judgment, his remedy is generally to seek a review of that judgment in accordance with the law, otherwise, there can be a multitude of litigations.

“The plurality of litigations can even derail the administration of justice. Therefore caution has to be adopted before entertaining such writ petitions. … there are no materials available to arrive at a conclusion in this writ petition that the decision to proceed only against the persons mentioned in C.C. No.702 of 2022 and C.C. No.1073 of 2021 is based on any wrong conclusion or faulty investigation”, said the Court.

The Court noted that there are sufficient provisions under law to add parties in case any offence is revealed later as having been committed by any person.

“… no materials are available to assume that the investigation is not being conducted properly. Other than assumptions that the investigation is not being conducted properly, petitioner has not produced any material before this Court to arrive at a conclusion that the investigation would proceed contrary to law”, observed the Court.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the plea.

Cause Title- Aji Krishnan v. Union of India & Ors.

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