In a major development in the Kerala gold smuggling case, suspended IAS officer and former Principal Secretary of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, M Sivasankar has been named as the fifth accused in the case probed by the Enforcement Directorate. Reportedly, it was the first time in Kerala that a non-retired IAS officer was being named and arrested as an accused. After his arrest, on Thursday morning, Sivasankar was presented before the Principal Sessions Court in Ernakulam, and was remanded to ED custody for a week.
On Wednesday evening, ED took Sivasankar into custody from an Ayurveda treatment centre in Thiruvananthapuram, following the High Courtâs rejection of the anticipatory bail plea of the IAS officer.
Though the investigation agency requested for a custody period of 14 days, considering Sivasankarâs physical condition the court allowed ED custody for a week. The court has also directed specific instructions to ED taking Sivasankarâs back ailment into consideration. Court has told that Sivasankar should be given an hour's rest after every three hours of questioning and also that he should only be interrogated till 6pm a day.
Reportedly, Sivasankar told the court on Thursday that he was made to wake up in the wee hours of morning to be questioned by the ED.
âCourt has given strict directions considering Sivasankarâs health. From taking him to hospital to the time restriction in questioning, the court has also allowed three family members including his wife and brother to meet him,â Sivasankarâs lawyer told the media.
On questions from reporters about ED mentioning that Sivasankar was not cooperating with the investigation, the advocate said that is not true. âHe can only say what he knows, he cannot say what they want. He has been clearly cooperating with the investigation,â said the advocate.
Meanwhile, following the arrest of Sivasankar, the state capital on Monday witnessed massive protest by opposition parties. Youth Congress marched to Cliff House, which is the official residence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, demanding his resignation. BJP also took out a march to the Kannur Collectorate and burned the effigy of CM Pinarayi.
Watch video of protest
Sivasankar came under the scanner of investigation agencies including Customs Department and National Investigation Agency (NIA) after his links with key accused in the gold smuggling case surfaced.
The ED has said that Sivasankar has major involvement in the crime and that he might be the real beneficiary of the gold smuggling and key accused Swapna Suresh, with whom he is closely connected, might only be a pawn. Enforcement Directorate is also the first agency probing the cases to take Sivasankar into custody and record his arrest.