ED takes Kerala CM's ex-secretary in custody after HC refuses him bail
Kochi, October 28, 2020
Minutes after the Kerala High Court on Wednesday refused anticipatory bail to M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, he was taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from an ayurveda centre in the state capital.
This is a serious setback for Vijayan in the gold smuggling case registered by the Customs and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). All along, Vijayan has claimed to having no clue or knowledge of Sivasankar's links and that it was his personal business.
Ever since the gold smuggling case surfaced on July 5, Sivasankar's fate has been hanging in the balance and with the court denying bail in cases filed by the Customs and the ED, arrests by both these agencies was expected all along.
The 58-year-old was convalescing at an ayurveda hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, and moments after the verdict came, the key former official was picked up by ED officials and taken to Kochi.
He will be subjected to detailed questioning.
The high court last week extended the status quo -- asking both the ED and the Customs not to arrest Sivasankar till Wednesday before it passed its orders.
Both these agencies have been strongly opposing the bail plea and the ED went a step further, when it handed over a sealed cover which is believed to contain strong evidence linking the senior IAS official links with the accused in the gold smuggling case.
Reacting to the verdict, State BJP president K.Surendran said: "It was we who had first spoken about the role of Vijayan's office. Vijayan was washing his hands off by saying that this has got nothing to do with his office and Sivasankar is personally responsible. All such arguments of Vijayan have now fallen flat and it's only a question of time before the probe agencies land in Vijayan's office."
Congress legislator K.S.Sabarinathan said there is nothing personal about Sivasankar's alleged involvement at all.
"He was the most powerful official and Vijayan's office cannot wash its hands off the case. If you look into all the steps taken by the government, it clearly shows they have something to hide," said Sabarinathan.
Batting for Vijayan was former Lok Sabha member and top CPI-M leader N. N.Krishnadas, who said it's for Sivasankar to deal with this case. "If he is innocent, he should prove it. The government has no role in it and there is no need to needle the state government. The solar case was different from this case," said Krishnadas.
All eyes are on Vijayan, as people remember the strong statement made by him in 2015 when the then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy came under a cloud when two of his staff members' links with solar scam accused Saritha Nair became known. They had demanded Chandy's resignation over it.
Ever since the gold smuggling case surfaced, both the Congress and the BJP have been up in arms demanding the resignation of Vijayan.