BY: SHREYA SINGH THAKUR
Suspended IAS Officer M Sivasankar was arrested by ED on October 28, 2020, in association with the gold smuggling. Kerala High Court granted provisional bail to him on January 25, 2021(Monday) by a single bench consisting of Justice Ashok Menon. The court observed “The applicant’s involvement in gold smuggling is not in question and there are no fair reasons for assuming that he is not liable. It should also be noted, nevertheless, if there is a possibility that the claimant will break any law while on bail. I feel that the prosecutor was not in a position to determine this fact. The claimant was engaged in laundering on the grounds of the claims made by the ED.”
This decision refers to the interception of 30 kg of 24-carat gold smuggling potentially worth approximately Rs.14.82 crore by the Customs (Preventive) Commissioner at Thiruvananthapuram airport. Sivasankar fell underneath a storm of doubt due to his ties with the key suspect in this case, Swapna Suresh and P R Sarith. The state government removed him from service in July of 2020 for suspected breach of code of ethics post the allegations of his involvement surfaced in the newspaper.
On December 24, 2020, ED issued a supplementary charge sheet for the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) contending that Sivasankar intentionally aided other main defendants in gold smuggling via the diplomacy route in Kerala. The Bureau had reported that its inspection had found that Sivasankar, the fifth defendant in the particular instance, had participated in illegal activity and had perpetrated intended crimes.
Sivasankar will, meanwhile, stay behind the bars as he was detained by the Customs on 21 January 2021 in linkage with a suspected case of dollar smuggling that came under scrutiny also during the gold-smuggling scam investigation. About three months after Sivasankar’s arrest, the High Court granted him bail.