Sivasankar also denied ED’s claim that he accepted to have contacted a Customs official to clear diplomatic baggage for accused Swapna Suresh.

Suspended ias officer M Sivasankar
news Gold smuggling case Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 09:17
Written by  PTI

Suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar, arrested as the fifth accused by Enforcement Directorate in the controversial gold smuggling case, has told a special court in Kochi that he was named an accused and arrested for refusing to name a ‘few political targets’ of ED’s choice.

According to an argument note submitted to the Special Court that deals with the Prevention of Money Laundering Act case (PMLA), which is hearing Sivasanka’s bail plea, the IAS officer has alleged that he was pressurised to ‘name a few political targets of ED’s choice’ which the applicant had refused and consequently, he was arraigned as an accused and arrested.

The court is likely to pronounce its verdict on Tuesday in the bail plea of Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister.

Sivasankar also said that ED’s claim — that he had accepted in his statement to the agency on October 15 that he has spoken to a senior customs officer and made a request to clear a cargo addressed to the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram as per the wishes of Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the gold smuggling case — was “trumped-up” and “without any basis."

"Till date, despite filing two applications for custody and one for judicial remand and one objection filed to the bail application, the ED has not made any claim or statement before this court regarding the nature of communication made by the applicant or to whom the bail applicant spoke to. Not a single averment is made in this regard in any of the filings made by ED before this court," the note submitted to the court by the IAS officer has said.

He alleged that this ambiguity was purposely created and maintained by the ED so as to prevent the court from understanding the true facts.

"Thus, the allegation is very vague and purposely designed to confuse and mislead the court in prejudicing the applicant," the note said.

Sivasankar submitted that he was a close family friend of Suresh and she turned out to be involved in the crime about which he had no clue about. He alleged that he was purposefully dragged into the controversy, apparently due to the post held by him, whereby he had professional proximity to the executive head (Chief Minister) of the state.

"Thus the arrest of the applicant (Sivasankar) and his arraigning as an accused in this case is borne out of his association with A-2 (Suresh) who turned out to be a prime accused in the case. Therefore the applicant is a victim of association and nothing more. The importance attached to the post held by the applicant also made him an easy political target," the note said.

Read: The Kerala gold smuggling case and all its controversies: An exhaustive explainer

Sivasankar also submitted that the evidence from WhatsApp chats presented by ED is only “half-truths and lies designed at presenting a concocted story to mislead the court.”

In an affidavit filed in the court last week, the ED had stated that Suresh has given a statement claiming that Sivasankar and his team in the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) were aware of the smuggling of the gold through diplomatic channels.

Meanwhile, the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, probing the case of the gold smuggling case, has interrogated Sivasankar in jail. The court had earlier granted Customs the permission to interrogate the officer in the jail.

Sivasankar, arrested by the agency on October 28, was sent to judicial remand by the court after his 14-day custody with the ED ended last week.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), Customs and the ED are conducting separate investigations into the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a piece of diplomatic baggage of UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5.