Kerala assembly turns down motion for removal of Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan
- Based on the statement of the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, the Speaker is set to be interrogated by the Customs.
After nearly a four-hour long heated debate, the Kerala Assembly on Thursday rejected a motion moved by the opposition seeking the removal of Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan alleging his role in the gold smuggling case.
The house rarely takes up such motions and during the debate Deputy Speaker V Sasi presided over the house as the Speaker sat with the other members. Introducing the motion, Muslim League legislator M Ummer said the Speaker denigrated his office by allegedly supporting a smuggling racket.
He said it would be ideal for him to keep away from the post till the multi-agency probe was over. He also alleged serious irregularities in the modification of the assembly building and funding of the assembly-controlled TV news channel.
Based on the statement of the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, the Speaker is set to be interrogated by the Customs. On January 8, his personal assistant was interrogated for more than 10 hours by officials probing the dollar case related to the gold smuggling incident. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala also said it would be ideal for the Speaker to quit till he gets a clean chit.
But ruling party members defended him. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the motion was politically-motivated and it will set a bad precedent in legislature history. Later, the Speaker also replied to allegations saying since his hands were clean so he was not worried.
“Other than media reports I haven’t got any calls or summons from anyone. I can’t run after media churning choicest stories. All allegations are without any basis and I am ready for any probe,” he said adding the opposition notice was a personal attack against him.
“I am confident that there was no lapse on my part. So I have no anxiety or fear,” he said claiming that he would end his political career if the charges against him were proved. Later, the house rejected the motion and the opposition staged a noisy walkout.
After seizure of 30 kg gold from a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic luggage in last July, there were reports allegedly linking the Speaker with main accused Suresh. He later admitted that he knew Suresh as an employee of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate and he attended some functions after being invited by her. But the opposition Congress and BJP alleged that it was more than an ‘official relationship’ and that Sreeramakrishnan had travelled with her several times to the West Asian countries.
They also alleged the accused smuggled US dollars to Gulf countries using the Speaker’s green channel access. They also alleged that a major portion of the smuggled US dollar was commission obtained from various government projects.
When the Customs broke up the gold smuggling racket, Suresh was working as a senior consultant with the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited. Before this, she worked at the UAE consulate in the state capital as its public relations officer. After the gold smuggling case surfaced, her degree was also found to be fake.
Two months back Suresh told a court in Kochi that her life was in danger and sought special protection for herself and her family members. She said she was under pressure not to take big names and some people met her in the jail a couple of times to put pressure on her. Later, the court directed the prisons department to provide her with adequate security. Detained under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (Cofeposa), Swapna Suresh is lodged in the women’s jail in Thiruvananthapuram.
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