Kerala gold smuggling case: HC directs ED not to arrest ex-principal secretary M Sivasankar till Oct 23

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At the request of the Additional Solicitor General seeking time to file a reply in the matter, the High Court adjourned the hearing on the matter till October 23 and directed that Sivasankar shall not be arrested till then.

 

The Kerala high court on Thursday ordered Enforcement Directorate not to arrest M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan,  till October 23, in connection with the gold smuggling case.

Sivasankar had filed the anticipatory bail application after the ED submitted a chargesheet in the case before the special PMLA court. 

He submitted that the central agency's chargesheet had allegations and imputations against him, making him apprehensive of an arrest.

A single-judge bench of Justice Ashok Menon issued the interim order on the anticipatory bail plea filed by Sivasankar seeking protection from arrest in the ED case.

The possibility of arrest despite fully cooperating with the central agencies was also highlighted by senior counsel P Vijayabhanu, who represented the petitioner at the hearing.

The counsel appearing for Sivasankar submitted before the court that the applicant is willing to appear before the agency and cooperate with the investigation in the case registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the alleged smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels.

Justice Ashok Menon issued the directive while seeking the views of Enforcement Directorate (ED) on an anticipatory bail filed by the senior IAS officer 

Earlier, Sivasankar was questioned by the National Investigation Agency and the Customs department for about a total of 90 hours. 

The counsel appearing for the ED submitted before the bench that the agency has not been made a party in the case and added that the case was a "serious one" involving top-level officers. 

"To date, we have not arrested him. The apprehension (of arrest) is ill-founded", the counsel said.

At the request of the Additional Solicitor General seeking time to file a reply in the matter, the High Court adjourned the hearing on the matter till October 23 and directed that Sivasankar shall not be arrested till then.

The case, which is currently being probed by the ED, NIA and the Customs department, pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels.

The matter had come to light after 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crores smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage was busted by the Customs in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5.

 

With inputs from Agency

 

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