Kerala CM’s ex-principal secretary M Sivasankar gets bail in gold smuggling case
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar was granted bail on Wednesday in a dollar smuggling case, one of the three cases lodged against him in connection with the gold smuggling racket. He was directed to furnish a bond of ₹2 lakh, two sureties for the like amount and appear before the investigating officers in Kochi every Monday.
Opposing the bail plea, customs had contended, "Sivasankar's influence posed the danger of intimidation of witnesses, as he was stationed at Thiruvananthapuram. The dubious conduct of the petitioner extended beyond the borders of the country, where too he appeared to command tremendous influence," according to new agency ANI.
The dollar case relates to alleged smuggling of $1,90,000 (equivalent to ₹1.30 crore) by a former finance head of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram to Muscat in Oman. The senior IAS officer, who was arrested in October last year for his alleged liaison with some of the other accused, was granted bail by a Kochi court dealing with economic offences. He will be released from the Kakkanad sub jail later today after remaining in judicial custody for more than 90 days.
Earlier, he was given bail in two cases and the dollar case was the only one pending against him. On January 25, additional chief Judicial magistrate's (economic offences) court approved his bail in the case registered by the Customs Department on the grounds that customs didn't file charge sheet in the case.
Following his alleged involvement in the case came to the fore, Sivasankar was suspended from service and the government disowned him.
The Kerala gold smuggling case, which pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels, came to the light after 30 kg gold worth ₹14.82 crore smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage was busted by the customs department Thiruvananthapuram on July 5, 2019.
Three federal agencies - Enforcement Directorate (ED), National Investigative Agency (NIA) and Customs department -are probing the case.