Kerala gold smuggling case: HC stays Sivasankar’s arrest till October 23

M Sivasankar was admitted to cardiac ICU on Friday. He has been interrogated by all the central agencies – Customs, Enforcement Directorate and NIA – for more than 90 hours so far

Sivasankar
Sivasankar was arrested around 10.30 pm on Wednesday (October28) after a day-long interrogation in connection with a gold smuggling case.

The High Court of Kerala asked investigating agencies not to arrest M Sivasankar, the formal principal secretary to the chief minister, till October 23 in the gold smuggling case.

Sivasankar’s anticipatory bail is posted to the same date for further hearing.

M Sivasankar was admitted to cardiac ICU on Friday and has been in the hospital since then. He has been interrogated by all the central agencies – Customs, Enforcement Directorate and NIA – for more than 90 hours so far.

In his bail petition submitted to the High Court on Monday, M Sivasankar argued that “he had travelled 60 times from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi in a span of 30 days”, appearing before various investigating agencies in connection with the gold smuggling case. His statements too have been recorded several times by the customs and other agencies, the bail petition said.

Sivasankar has already obtained an interim stay for arrest against Enforcement Directorate till 23rd of this month on an anticipatory bail petition submitted last week. Despite a court stay on arrest by ED, the Customs department made an attempt to arrest Sivasankar last Friday.

As directed by the Enforcement Department, Sivasankar appeared before the ED officials on October 15, and was relieved from the office late at night.  Sivasankar said in his anticipatory bail plea, submitted in the High Court, that he was unable to travel to Thiruvananthapuram on the same night. The next day, i.e. October 16, he travelled to Thiruvananthapuram and reached home around 5.30 pm. Around 6 pm, two ED officials came to his house with summons and he was asked to accompany them immediately in a car waiting outside. On the way, Sivasankar complained of chest pain and was rushed to a private hospital nearby. Later he was shifted to the Medical College at Thiruvananthapuram and has been admitted in the cardiac ICU.

Sivasankar’s lawyer S Rajeev argued that “the Customs department is trying to sabotage the process of law by choosing Friday evening to arrest him so that he does not get bail till Monday”. The lawyer said that Sivasankar has already disclosed all the details known to him.

“It is pertinent to note that none of the contemporaneous documents produced by the investigating agency before the court gave any clue regarding the complicity of the petitioner,” argues the bail petition submitted to the High Court.

The Customs department is trying to secure Sivasankar’s arrest in a case in which all other accused have secured bail. Sources say, none of the investigating agencies “have so far been able to produce any incriminating evidence or statement by any of the accused sufficient enough to connect Sivasankar to gold smuggling and to make him an accomplice”.

Also read: Kerala gold smuggling: ED wants ex-Principal Sec Sivasankar further probed

CPI (M) and other left parties have said termed it as a “political drama to malign the image of the state government” by somehow connecting the former principal secretary to smuggling.

The customs case is that Sivasankar has illegally helped Swapna Suresh, the accused in the gold smuggling case, to transport US dollar 1.9 lakh from Kerala to abroad. However, the chargesheet submitted by Enforcement Directorate has no such findings in its report, despite both the agencies having been investigating the same transaction of illegal money trail.

The High Court in the interim order asked the Customs department to submit a detailed report on their arguments against granting Sivasankar an anticipatory bail.

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