M Sivasankar, the former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, was taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) within minutes of the high court rejecting his anticipatory bail application.
In a dramatic move, an ED team turned up at the private Ayurveda hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, where the senior bureaucrat was undergoing treatment for what he claimed as back pain.
Sivasankar has been using his supposed ‘medical condition’ to dodge arrest by the central probe agencies, ever since Customs made an unsuccessful attempt to take him into custody earlier this month.
But with the high court dismissing his plea for anticipatory bail, the ED officials landed at the hospital within 15 minutes and took him into custody from his hospital bed and drove to the agency’s Kochi office, where his interrogation was going on till late night. He was being questioned by a joint team of ED and Customs.
The court, which rejected Sivasankar’s plea, used harsh words to describe his conduct as a senior official occupying an important position. The court had examined evidence provided by the probe agencies in sealed envelopes and came to the conclusion further investigations were warranted and hence the rejection of the bail plea. It asked him to cooperate with the agencies, which had complained of non-cooperation from him.
Sivasankar being taken into custody had the opposition turning up the heat for the resignation of the CM. KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said by holding Sivasankar, the agencies had in effect taken Pinarayi Vijayan into custody.
Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala described Sivasankar as the symptom while Pinarayi Vijayan represented the disease and called for his immediate resignation, claiming he has lost all moral right to continue in office.
State BJP chief K Surendran said Vijayan was the main culprit in the gold smuggling case and predicted he would be next in line for action by the central agencies.
Interestingly, the CM skipped his daily news briefing, obviously denying media persons an opportunity to ask him questions about the latest development.