By LE Desk
New Delhi, March 5: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay a Kerala High Court order granting bail to suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar in a money laundering case registered in connection with gold smuggling in the state.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and RS Reddy took note of the fact that the suspended Principal Secretary, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on October 28 last year, was already out on bail.
The bench, however, issued notice to Sivasankar on the appeal of the Enforcement Directorate against the high court’s order granting bail to him, news agency PTI reported.
During brief hearing conducted via video conferencing, the bench asked Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing ED, as to how the suspended bureaucrat was involved in the gold smuggling case.
“He was secretary of the Kerala government and had twice talked to custom officials, which is on record,” the law officer said.
However, senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing for Sivasankar, said the probe agency has found “no involvement” of the officer in the smuggling case. “What they have is that I have talked to custom officials twice,” Gupta said.
On being told that the accused officer was on bail, the bench observed, “we are not staying the high court’s judgement” and listed ED’s plea after six weeks.
The high court in January had granted bail to Sivasankar.
In a relief to the former principal secretary to the Kerala chief minister, the Additional Chief Judicial (Economic Offences) Court, Ernakulam, had also granted him default bail in another case registered by customs in connection with the smuggling of gold.
The ED had filed a supplementary chargesheet at the court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases here on December 24, alleging that Sivasankar knowingly assisted other key accused in gold smuggling through diplomatic channels in Kerala.
The agency had said its investigation had revealed that Sivasankar, the fifth accused in the case, allegedly indulged in criminal activities and committed scheduled offences.
The ED had filed the partial charge sheet in the court for PMLA cases, days before the 60-day limit for filing the charge sheet was to end.