The Kerala High Court barred the Enforcement Directorate from arresting M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister, in connection with the gold smuggling case until October 23. An interim order to this effect was passed by a single bench of Justice Ashok Menon. The order was passed after hearing the submissions of senior Advocate P Vijayabhanu for the applicant and Additional Solicitor General SV Raju for the Enforcement Directorate, according to reports.
Sivasankarâ€™s counsel told the court that the former top bureaucrat was willing to cooperate with the investigation in the case and also appear before the agency in connection with the probe in the smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels in Kerala. A case has been registered in the same incident under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Alleging that Sivasankar was sacked from the post of Principal Secretary to CMO due to unfair trial by the media, his counsel pleaded that the former top bureaucrat was a responsible officer. He asked the court to protect Sivasankar from arrest. â€śHe is not going to flee", Advocate Vijayabhanu affirmed.
Meanwhile ASG Raju told the single judge bench that the Enforcement Directorate had not been made a party to the case. He added that the case was a serious one which involved the top bureaucratic brass. After the ASG asked for time to file a reply, the bench adjourned the next hearing to October 23 and asked that Sivasankar not be arrested till that time.
After the Enforcement Directorate filed a chargesheet in the case before a special PMLA court, Sivasankar moved the court with a bail application. Sivasankarâ€™s bail plea stated that â€śthere were a lot of confusing findings in the final report.â€ť â€śThe petitioner strongly apprehends that to satisfy certain vested interests, there is every possibility that the investigating agency is compelled to arrest the petitioner although he is not arrayed as accused in the final report,â€ť the bail plea reads.
Sivasankar has admitted that he was acquainted with the accused Swapna Suresh. Swapna was working as the Secretary of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram in 2018-19, and Sivasankar said that he had interacted with her in official capacity.
He also added that until news reports of the gold smuggling case came up, he was not aware that Swapna was involved in smuggling of gold. Sivasankarâ€™s bail plea also adds that though the ED said that the gold smuggling activities had started in November 2019, the agency had attached screenshots from much before in order to portray a false impression about the former bureaucrat.
The petition also alleged that there was a media trial going on against Sivasankar. â€śPetitioner strongly apprehends that the investigating agency is under tremendous pressure due to the media trial,â€ť the plea read.