Suspension of Pinarayi Vijayan's ex-principal secretary extended
Thiruvananthapuram, July 10, 2021
The suspension of one of Kerala's most powerful IAS officers, M. Sivasankar, who was Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's principal secretary, has been extended.
On July 17 last year, the state government suspended the bureaucrat after his alleged links with the prime accused in the now-infamous gold smuggling case came to light.
Soon after his suspension, came his arrest after several rounds of questioning by the NIA, Customs and the Enforcement Directorate.
For several months Sivasankar was cooling his heels in a Kochi jail before he got bail. He now stays put at his residence in the state capital.
According to the rules, the State Government had to take a call on revoking Sivasankar's suspension, for it has been a year since the decision was taken. After extending the suspension, the state government communicated its decision to the Centre.
Customs officials had arrested P. S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, on July 5 last year for allegedly smuggling gold in a diplomatic bag that had been sent to the Consulate. Another former Consulate staffer, Swapna Suresh, and her associate, Sandip Nair, were arrested by the National Investigation Agency from Bengaluru.
Chief Minister Vijayan removed Sivasankar first as his Principal Secretary and then as IT Secretary after it surfaced that Swapna and Sivasankar were close friends.
The accused in the gold smuggling case have also been linked to alleged corruption in the Life Mission project, which is Vijayan's pet scheme of getting homes built for the using sponsorship money.
It is alleged that a sum of Rs 9 crore out of the total project cost of Rs 20 crore was paid out as illegal commissions.