Former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, M. Sivasankar, will remain suspended from service for a further period of six months.
The embattled bureaucrat, who was for long the face of the CM’s office in the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, had come under a cloud after being embroiled in the politically stormy UAE diplomatic channel gold smuggling case last year.
As per Rule 3 (8) of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, the government had recently constituted a Suspension Review Committee to reexamine Mr Sivasankar’s case. The officer’s second suspension period was due to end on July 16.
By one account, the committee found that reinstating Mr. Sivasankar in civil service might be legally untenable at the current juncture. The Customs had issued a show-cause notice to him on the charge of abetting gold smugglers. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is investigating the officer on suspicion of giving official cover to racketeers to spirit away takings from gold smuggling in foreign currency from Kerala to Dubai.
Additionally, Mr. Sivasankar is facing an anti-corruption enquiry on the charge that he had "made a reference to appoint a person (Swapna)", one of the main accused in the smuggling case, as marketing liaison officer of Space Project when she was under the payroll of the UAE consulate as executive secretary to the consul general.
The government had suspended Mr Sivasankar last July after a three-member committee headed by the then Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta concluded prima facie that the officer had violated civil service conduct rules. It later extended his suspension period for six months.
Mr. Mehta had also pointed out that "such association and frequent contacts with a foreign consulate official" had violated the All India Service Conduct Rules, 1968. He had recommended Mr Sivasankar’s suspension from service "given the wider ramifications of this case".
The LDF has repeatedly maintained that political malfeasance had motivated the Central agencies to implicate top government officials in the case wrongly. Its political position was conducive to Mr. Sivasankar’s rehabilitation.
The government had also factored in the political implications of reinstating Mr. Sivasankar, given the friction between the State and Centre over the Customs and Enforcement Directorate investigations into the gold smuggling case.
Both the Centre and State had dragged their differences of opinion to the High Court. The Kerala government had recently upped the ante in its stand-off with the Centre by instituting a judicial commission to examine the alleged attempt on the part of central agencies to implicate Mr. Vijayan and his office in the case falsely.
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