M. Sivasankar, the former principal secretary of the Kerala chief minister, is being questioned for the third time by the NIA on Thursday. The IAS officer, who is now under suspension, reached the NIA headquarters in Kochi at 10am. His questioning was continuing when this report was published.
The third round of questioning is being done after the NIA collected digital records from Swapna Suresh, one of the main accused in the gold smuggling case. The NIA, according to sources, has collated some 2,000GB data from Swapna's multiple phones and laptops last week.
It is learnt that Sivasankar is being questioned and cross-checked in the presence of Swapna Suresh. The NIA had got Swapna in custody recently.
Sources close to Sivasankar told THE WEEK that he has been summoned as a witness as was in the previous rounds of questioning. “Today's is a routine summoning. NIA or Customs have questioned him for hours earlier also. But they have not got any clue to link Sivasankar to gold smuggling,'' said the source.
Sivasankar, on his part, had maintained that he only had “personal” relationship with Swapna and had denied any clue about the criminal activities of those accused in the gold smuggling case.
The government had recently extended the suspension of Sivasankar for four more months. The decision was taken as per the recommendation of a committee under the chief secretary.
The gold smuggling case surfaced in July when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested by the Customs when he was allegedly facilitating the smuggling of 30kg gold in diplomatic baggage from Dubai. The issue attained political colours when the name of Swapna Suresh—a former employee of the Consulate, but since employed with the Kerala IT Department—surfaced.
Once her proximity to Sivasankar, the most powerful IAS officer in the LDF government, came out, the LDF government had to scramble for cover. Though Sivasankar was removed from all the posts the very next day after his name emerged, the controversy has certainly dented the image of the LDF government in a very bad way.