Top Kerala bureaucrat M Sivasankar has finally been suspended from service on Thursday, after a report submitted as part of a probe showed that he had violated All India Civil Service rules. His suspension was announced by CM Pinarayi Vijayan, days after sustained demands by the opposition for stricter action against the senior bureaucrat.
The departmental probe was initiated after several allegations emerged of his links with the accused persons in the Kerala gold smuggling case.
Sivasankar had earlier held the posts of IT Secretary and Principal Secretary to the Kerala CM. He was suspended based on a report filed by a two member inquiry committee consisting of the Chief Secretary of the state and Additional Chief Secretary of Finance.
“He has violated All India Service rules. There will be a departmental enquiry. He is suspended as part of this probe. The Committee has found that there have been actions from him which are not allowable as part of the All India Service rules,” CM Pinarayi Vijayan said during the press meet on Thursday.
The CM also said that the inquiry committee has asked the government to check into recent postings made under the IT Department and other projects under the department.
Sivasankar’s suspension is an embarrassment for the Kerala Chief Minister, who in many past occasions has defended Sivasankar.
Sivasankar is an engineer and an MBA graduate, who started his career with the Reserve Bank of India. Sivasankar who was conferred with IAS in 1995 and has held several portfolios in the government, had seen a smooth ascent in Kerala bureaucracy. In 1998-99, he was with the IT Mission Group and Administrative Reforms Committee (ARC) and in 2002 he was credited with launching the first smart ration card as the Director of Civil Supplies.
Sivasankar first landed in trouble after questions were raised over why and how the main accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, was working with the Kerala government’s Space Park through another agency. With doubts raised over Swapna’s educational qualifications, the Kerala government decided to probe whether Sivasankar had given her preferential treatment.
Things got murkier for Sivasankar when leaked call records showed that calls were made from the phone of PS Sarith, the main accused in the gold smuggling case, to Sivasankar several times over the past few weeks.
The call logs showed that 4 phone calls were made by Sarith to Sivasankar from April to June. Ten other calls made by Sarith to Sivasankar were for less than 30 seconds and it is unclear if these calls were attended to.
On Thursday, one more person connected with the Kerala government was removed from his post. Arun Balachandran, the Kerala Chief Minister’s IT Fellow was sacked from his post for booking an apartment for Swapna Suresh.
Here too, Arun claimed that the flat was booked upon the instructions of Sivasankar, who was serving as the IT Secretary.
Customs officials also visited Sivasankar’s house on Tuesday evening, following which he was taken to the customs office and quizzed for several hours.
Watch the smuggled gold seized by Customs: