M Sivasankar, the former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged money laundering case linked to the gold smuggling case. The suspended officer was taken in custody for questioning by the probe agency Wednesday morning, soon after the Kerala High Court rejected his anticipatory bail request.
The Kerala gold smuggling case - that has been at centre of the state's politics - is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Customs Department. It involves the smuggling of at least 30 kg gold allegedly through diplomatic channels in July. The gold worth Rs 14.82 crore was seized at the Thiruvananthapuram airport from diplomatic baggage meant to be delivered to the UAE consulate on July 5.
M Sivasankar had been questioned several times by the three central probe agencies over allegations of his close links with the accused in the gold smuggling case.
On Wednesday morning, officials took him into custody from the Triveni Nursing Home in Thiruvananthapuram, where he had been admitted.
The suspended IAS officer had petitioned the court saying he was questioned by several probe agencies for more than 90 hours, but they have "not submitted any report or incriminating materials against him", before the court.
The petitioner stated he feared that "under media propaganda and constant demand for his arrest", the probe agencies would act under pressure.
However, the Enforcement Directorate and the Customs Department, had strongly opposed the anticipatory bail petition.
The Enforcement Directorate told the court that this is a case where "custodial interrogation" may be required, as appropriate, and that M Sivasankar had remained "evasive" on certain facts when questioned. The agency also told the court that the officer was in regular contact with the accused.
The Opposition has been demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the alleged involvement of the officer. The ruling CPM and its allies in the government, however, say the suspended officer will face the consequences as per law if found guilty.