Kerala govt. reinstates M. Sivasankar

He had come under a cloud for his association with gold case accused

The government has reinstated IAS officer M. Sivasankar pending the finalisation of the disciplinary action initiated against him.

The former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had come under a cloud in July 2020 for his alleged association with the prime accused in the UAE consulate-linked gold smuggling case Swapna Suresh.

A subsequent government inquiry found that Mr. Sivasankar had appointed Swapna as a marketing liaison officer at Space Park project. At the time, Swapna was on the payrolls of the UAE consulate.

The inquiry committee had found that “such association and frequent contacts with a foreign consulate official” violated the All India Service Conduct Rules, 1968. It also considered the “wider ramifications of the smuggling case.”

Arrested

Subsequently, the Customs arrested Mr. Sivasankar for allegedly abetting the smuggling operation. It arraigned him as the 29th accused in the case. Mr. Sivasankar served time as a remand prisoner for 98 days and was released on bail in February last.

Initially, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) viewed Mr. Sivasankar as a political liability. The Congress and the BJP had savaged the government for Mr. Sivasankar’s alleged role in the smuggling scandal and tried to link him and other suspects to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO)

Soon, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) saw a BJP-Congress-Central government plot to implicate the CMO in the case. It protested the cherry-picked leaks to the media and said a conspiracy was afoot to discredit the government. Soon, the Customs served notices to senior officials in the CMO and rumours abounded that the agency might implicate Mr. Vijayan in the case.

The Congress and the BJP used the Customs and Enforcement Directorate probe into the smuggling case to run a recriminatory campaign against Mr. Vijayan in the run-up to the 2021 Assembly polls. However, it did not pay off, and the electorate returned the LDF to power with a higher vote share.

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