After more than three months in custody, M Sivasankar — former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan — got bail in the dollar smuggling case and will be released from jail today. Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences) gave the order today on his bail application.
Setting conditions similar to his bail in the gold smuggling case, he has to pay Rs 2 Lakh as a bond, produce surety to two people, and appear before the investigative officer on all Mondays. He was previously granted bail in the gold smuggling and the money laundering cases, and with this third bail, he is finally free from jail after 98 days.
The Kerala High Court on January 25 granted bail to Sivasankar in connection with the gold smuggling case registered by the Enforcement Directorate and the Customs department. He was arrested on October 29 last year after Kerala HC denied him anticipatory bail and was in the custody of ED in Kochi ever since. The Directorate had named Sivasankar as the kingpin of the gold smuggling in Kerala. Sivasankar was suspended after his links with gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh came to light.
The Customs department had accused Sivasankar of being the mastermind behind the gold smuggling scam. Closely following the arguments of the Enforcement Directorate in their 1,000-page charge sheet, the Customs claimed that Sivasankar used his relationship with the CM to aid smugglers.
The Customs claimed that Sivasankar knew about the illegal activities based out of the UAE consulate and that strong pieces of evidence were pointing to the direction. As a senior officer, he was bound to report the activities but chose not to do so, claimed the department. He had misused his authority as the principal secretary to the Chief Minister as well as his influence within the CM office to aid the smugglers, they added.
Meanwhile, during their Aishwarya Kerala Yatra, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala had alleged that there is an unholy nexus between the BJP and the CPM, especially in the matter of the gold smuggling case. The issue had been a prime topic before and during the local body elections, but with LDF’s victory, the media coverage surrounding the whole issue slowed down. Ramesh had added that another evidence to the nexus is the halt in the gold smuggling investigation after Pinarayi Vijayan had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding the same.