The former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was probed by the ED in the Kerala gold smuggling case.
A cabinet meeting on Thursday is likely to consider whether to revoke or extend the suspension of M. Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
By one account, the government had constituted a Suspension Review Committee, as per Rule 3 (8) of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, to review Mr Sivasankar’s case further. It was unclear whether the committee had met or submitted its findings to the cabinet.
The LDF government has repeatedly maintained that political malfeasance had motivated the Central agencies to implicate top government officials in the case wrongly. Its political position appeared conducive to Mr. Sivasankar’s rehabilitation at some point in time, according to some privy to LDF affairs.
An official said the government was also likely to factor 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 UAE diplomatic channel 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.
In July last, the government had suspended Mr Sivasankar 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.
The main charge against Mr Sivasankar was that he had appointed Swapna Suresh, one of the main accused in the smuggling case, as marketing liaison officer of Space Project when she was already under the employment of the UAE consulate as executive secretary to the consul general.
Mr. Mehta had also pointed out that “such association and frequent contacts with a foreign consulate official” violated the All India Service Conduct Rules, 1968. He had recommended Mr Sivasankar’s suspension from service “given the wider ramifications of this case”.
Mr. Sivasankar’s alleged association with Swapna and other accused in the gold smuggling case had become a political liability for the previous LDF government.
In the face of a stormy public scandal, the previous government was constrained to disavow Mr. Sivasankar, who was arguably the face of the Chief Minister’s Office for long.
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