Kerala

Kerala gold smuggling case: HC stays Sivasankar’s arrest till Oct. 28

A file photo of M. Sivasankar leaving the Police Club in Thiruvananthapuram after being questioned by the NIA  

The Kerala High Court has stayed the arrest of M. Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, till October 28 in the UAE consulate-linked gold smuggling case. The court will pronounce its judgment that day on his bail application.

Appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), S.V. Raju, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India, submitted that Mr. Sivasankar could be the kingpin of the entire smuggling activities and may have used Swapna Suresh as a pawn in the operations. Swapna was just the face of the operations and Mr. Sivasankar could have been pulling the strings. The agency was probing these aspects, he said.

Mr. Sivasankar may have had a direct role and involvement in the operations, Mr. Raju argued while opposing the bail application.

ASG’s submission

According to the ASG, Swapna was under Mr. Sivasankar’s control and he could have benefited from the smuggling operations that were carried out 21 times. Mr. Sivasankar, being one of the senior-most bureaucrats of the State and the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, may well have intervened to clear obstacles in the way of the smuggling racket.

It was likely that smuggling was carried out more times than the accused had cared to admit, he said.

The ASG submitted that Mr. Sivasankar was well aware that the money recovered from Swapna’s locker was proceeds of the crime.

‘Little evidence’

P. Vijayabhanu, counsel for Mr. Sivasankar, said he had always cooperated with the investigation and there was nothing on record to prove the allegations levelled against him by the agencies. While the Customs had questioned Mr. Sivasankar for 30 hours, the ED interrogated him for 36 hours. The National Investigation Agency had earlier submitted that they did not have any plans to arrest him, he argued.

The counsel also submitted that Mr. Sivasankar was being hounded and he was finding it difficult to even rent a hotel room.

Evasive during quizzing

Appearing for the Customs, K. Ramkumar submitted that the official was not cooperating with the interrogation and was evasive on many important questions.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 12:31:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hc-stays-sivasankars-arrest-till-oct-28/article32933232.ece

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