The Kerala High Court, while refusing anticipatory bail to M Siva Sankar IAS, former Chief Secretary to the Chief Minister of Kerala, noted that there were clear hints from the Enforcement Directorate that he might be also engaged in money laundering with the primary defendant, Swapna Suresh.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Mr. Sivasankar, former Chief Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, on Wednesday night in connexion with the angle of money laundering of the UAE Consulate-linked gold smuggling case. His arrest was reported at around 10.15 p.m. After almost seven hours of interrogation by the investigative team at the Agency's headquarters. Mr. Sivasankar was being taken before the Principal Sessions Court, Ernakulam, on Thursday.
In the two anticipatory bail petitions filed by Siva Sankar in the cases reported by the Enforcement Directorate and the Customs Department concerning the gold smuggling case, the court issued different orders. "The claimant has not yet been convicted. There is not enough material to prove why he's going to jail. The simple fact that he was interrogated for 60 hours by the Customs Department does not mean that he is expected to be prosecuted. "said Justice Ashok Menon.
The Court also observed that Siva Sankaran had been in frequent touch with one of the primary suspects, namely Swapna Suresh, and that he had also offered to support her by calling his Chartered Accountant and inquiring him to assist her in handling her finances. "This suggests that there is a reasonable chance that the claimant knew of Swapna Suersh 's role in the suspected smuggling operation. If the defendant has been knowingly engaged in the commission of the crime, is all that needs to be investigated and figured out. "the judge also noted.
As regards the case reported by the Enforcement Directorate, the court ruled that Siva Sankar was not indicted in the first lawsuit submitted by the ED. The Court acknowledged that, according to the rules of the PMLA, many appeals can be filed while the inquiry progresses"The fact that he interfered in the administration of the funds belonging to Swapna Suresh is an unfavourable circumstance for him. Since the claimant is expected to be convicted based on adequate evidence to be obtained against him, provided the severity of the violations under the PMLA, the claimant can certainly not be subjected to an extraordinary release from the pre-arrest bail, "the court said.
"There is a strong sign that the complainant was very near to Swapna Suresh, the chief accused of this offence. He also met with his Chartered Accountant the deposition of sums belonged to Swapna Suresh. He presented him to the Chartered Accountant and questioned him to address her financial issues. It is claimed that as a result of the instructions provided by the claimant, Swapna Suresh and the Chartered Accountant (Venugopal) have opened a locker in the State Bank of India, the Thiruvananthapuram Branch. Both had the right to operate the locker. While the applicant has distanced from its operations related to the deposit of the amounts of money in the locker, there is also some hint in the correspondence between the claimant and the Chartered Accountant concerning the applicant liable for handling the finances of Swapna Suresh. The Enforcement Directorate has still not decided whether the claimant is to be a suspect accused or a witness. However, there are clear signals from the ED that the claimant could be a person engaged in money laundering with Swapna Suresh. The comments made by the Chartered Accountant and the accused Swapna Suresh clearly suggest the presence of the claimant. There may be inadequate evidence actually gathered by the ED to include the complainant as an accused, and there may also be inadequate evidence to indicate that he is guilty of the suspected offences. Yet they have ample information to interrogate him, with which he is obliged to comply, as a senior government officer. The applicant would say that he was interested in the affairs of the Government and communicated with Swapna Suresh, the Secretary to the Consulate General, in this role. If that is the case, there is no reason for him to engage with matters about the administration of their finances. The fact that he had interfered in the administration of the funds belonging to Swapna Suresh is an adverse situation to him, "the judge stated in the order.