A single bench of Justice Ashok Menon of Kerala High Court granted bail to M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Kerala and directed release on bail on execution of bond for Rs.5,00,000/-with two solvent sureties for like amount each to the satisfaction of the Jurisdictional court.
The former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister of Kerala was arrested in the money laundering case registered by Enforcement Directorate in relation to the Kerala gold smuggling case. The Court further observed,
“There is no doubt about the complicity of the applicant and there are no reasonable grounds to believe that he is not guilty. However, it should also be considered whether there is a likelihood of the applicant committing any offence while on bail. I am afraid that the prosecution has not been able to establish this fact. Going by the allegations made by the ED, the applicant was indulged in laundering of 64 lakhs which was seized from the SBI locker. ? There is no indication that the applicant had anything to do with the locker belonging to A2 in Federal Bank. Thus the proviso to Section 45 (1) of the PMLA would operate in view of the fact that the money allegedly laundered is less than rupees one crore. The fact that the applicant is suffering from various illness would also come to his benefit as the proviso to Section 45 exempts a sick person from the rigours of the Section.”
The court also noted that he has been in custody since 28/10/2020 and was subjected to interrogation including custodial interrogation in a number of times. “The present pandemic times also does not encourage incarceration of an accused indefinitely. I find no rationale for continuing the applicant’s judicial custody as an under trial in this case The applicant is therefore, entitled to be released on regular bail on stringent condition.
The Kerala Gold Smuggling Case is related to the seizure of 30 kg of 24 carat gold worth Rs.14.82 crore at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5 by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi, which was sought to be brought through the diplomatic consignment sent to UAE consulate at the State capital. Sivasankar came under the cloud of suspicion on account of his connections with the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh and P R Sarith.
After the reports about Kerala Gold Smuggling Case surfaced in media, the state government suspended him from service last July for alleged violations of conduct rules.
On October 28, the High Court had dismissed Sivasankar’s anticipatory bail plea in the ED Kerala Gold Smuggling Case observing that there were circumstances suggesting that he might be involved in money laundering with Swapna Suresh.
Read the Order here: