THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A Kochi court on Thursday sent Kerala chief minister Mr Pinarayi Vijayan’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar to seven days custody of Enforcement Directorate (ED) which arrested him in connection with the money trail in the Kerala gold smuggling case.
Even though the ED sought 14 day custody of Sivasankar who has been arraigned as fifth accused in the case, the court granted the investigating agency seven day custody. He was produced before the Ernakulam Principal Sessions court which is also a Special Court of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases in Kochi .
In its arrest memo the ED has claimed that Sivasankar was guilty of an offence punishable under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
It further stated;``During the statement given to ED on October 15, you accepted to have spoken to a senior Customs officer and made the request as per the wishes of Swapna Suresh. This clearly shows your active involvement in the offence committed by Swapna. This also amounts to misuse of public office and interference in the official working of other government departments."
The arrest memo said ;``Analyasis of Whatsapp chats is also indicative of the fact that you in your official capacity might have called for clearance of diplomatic cargos as well including ones containing smuggled gold because nobody tells what was inside such diplomatic bags once cleared unexamined."
The ED said Sivasnkar had willfully adopted an attitude of non cooperation by either evading the query or giving misleading and evasive replies. "By such actions of willful non cooperation you are impeding the investigation by not disclosing the facts and information which is in your exclusive knowledge," the report filed before court said.
The court also directed the ED to permit Sivasankar to take a break after every three hours of questioning during custody period. The court’s direction came in the wake of Sivasankar's plea that he was suffering from severe back pain and it would be physically impossible for him to sit through the continuous grilling by ED. Besides, the court also permitted three family members including his wife to meet him during the ED custody period.
The court further said if required Sivasankar should be extended medical help after 6 pm. Questioning after 6 pm is not permitted.