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Court breather for Sivasankar

The former secretary to the chief minister’s office is under suspension over his alleged links with the key accused in the Kerala gold-smuggling case
M. Sivasankar

Our Correspondent   |   Bangalore   |   Published 20.10.20, 12:57 AM

Kerala High Court on Monday ordered the customs department not to arrest senior bureaucrat M. Sivasankar until Friday pending hearing of his anticipatory bail plea.

Sivasankar, the former secretary to the chief minister’s office, is under suspension over his alleged links with the key accused in a gold-smuggling case.

Earlier in the day, his counsel had moved an anticipatory bail plea citing his health condition. He was under treatment for a disc prolapse at the Government Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.

In the evening, the hospital discharged Sivasankar based on the decision taken by a medical board that studied his case. He has been advised to take rest at home.

Sivasankar had to be rushed to a private hospital on Friday evening when customs officials picked him up from his home in Thiruvananthapuram. He had then complained of chest pain and discomfort.

On Saturday, the private hospital ruled out any cardiac issues, but confirmed a disc prolapse that needed specialised care. He was then moved to the medical college hospital.

In his bail plea, Sivasankar cited that the customs department, Enforcement Directorate and National Investigation Agency had subjected him to over 90 hours of interrogation in 100 days, but could find nothing incriminating against him.

Senior lawyer P. Vijayabhanu, who appeared for the bureaucrat, argued that more than 600 hours of travelling to appear for interrogation had taken a toll on his client’s health.

The counsel informed the court that his client was cooperating with the agencies and had honoured the summons to appear before it.

Senior lawyer K. Ramkumar, who appeared for the customs department, opposed the anticipatory bail plea, but the court ordered him to file a counter affidavit by Friday.

Friday has been set as the next date of hearing.

Last week, the high court had granted Sivasankar interim bail till Friday in a case filed by the Enforcement Directorate that was probing the money-laundering angle in the gold-smuggling case.

Sivasankar was under the lens because of his links with Swapna Suresh, P.S. Sarith and Sandeep Nair —three key suspects behind the attempt to smuggle gold in a diplomatic bag addressed to the attaché of the Consulate General of UAE in Thiruvananthapuram.

The Thiruvananthapuram airport customs had busted the attempt to smuggle 30kg of gold worth Rs14.82 crore on July 5.

The government suspended Sivasankar, who was also the principal secretary in the IT department, over his close links with Swapna and others.

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