Kerala gold smuggling case: Former principal secretary of CM suspended

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Former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister and IT secretary M Sivasankar was on Thursday, July 16, suspended from service in the wake of allegations of his links with the accused in the gold smuggling case, rocking the state.

The decision was based on the recommendations made by a panel comprising Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta and Finance Secretary. The report submitted to chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan in the morning reportedly said that he had violated the service rules and failed to maintain vigilance in dealing with people.

The committees found that there was lack of vigilance on the part of Sivasankar where his relation with the suspects in the gold smuggling case was beyond a professional one. The panel also probed into the allegations surrounding the appointment of gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh and found nepotism on his part.

The action came after the investigations by Customs into the smuggling of 30 kg of gold worth about Rs.15 crores in a diplomatic bag in the name of the UAE consulate in Thisurvananthapuram revealed his close liaison with the key accused in the case. The customs had grilled him for over seven hours on July 14.

The incident dented the image of the LDF Government with the oppositions linking the chief minister’s office to smuggling and mounting pressure for the resignation of the chief minister. It is learnt that some of the ruling allies had also intervened in the issue after the opposition parties accused the government of shielding Shivshankar.  

57-year-old Sivasankar is a 1995 batch civil servant who had been promoted from the state service. He was serving as the principal secretary to the Chief Minister and IT secretary when he was linked to the key suspects, Swapna Suresh and Sarith Nair in the gold smuggling case, which saw him being stripped off from the posts.

Meanwhile, two more persons were arrested by Customs in connection with the gold smuggling case on Thursday. Both the two arrested persons, Muhammad Anwar TM and Saidalvi E, hail from Malapuram district.

As part of the probe into the gold smuggling case, investigation agencies on Wednesday carried out multiple raids in Thiruvananthapuram. A raid was carried out at Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL), under the IT department, where the accused Swapna Suresh used to work.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered an FIR under Sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, against four accused persons, of whom three have been arrested.

Image Credit: Kerala Kaumudi

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