Court grants Customs 7 days additional custody of M Sivasankar

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(Eds: Adds details of court order) Kochi, Dec 1 (PTI) A local court on Tuesday granted Customs seven days additional custody of suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar, arrested by the central agency in connection with the gold smuggling case.

The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences) court considered the Customs plea, a day after Sivasankar's five day custody ended.

In its plea, the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate on Monday claimed that key accused Swapna Suresh, during her custodial interrogation, has made revelations implicating Sivasankar in the currency smuggling case with strong links in the gold smuggling case.

The court, which examined the statements of Suresh and her co-accused Sarith P S, submitted in a sealed cover, said their statements would reveal the involvement of 'big sharks' 'who allegedly manipulated their solemn duties and thereby operated the smuggling of foreign currencies.' Withholding their names and other details to ensure confidentiality, the court said their alleged involvement is 'shocking to the conscience and definitely an intrinsic probe is necessary' to corroborate the allegation.

The court noted that as per the new revelations, these people have developed a strong nexus with the UAE consulate officials and thereby operated smuggling activities previously, without being caught.

In its order, the court also referred to the customs application seeking Sivasankar's custody for carrying out more investigation on two mobile phones used by him.

It noted that the probe revealed that he had been using three mobile phones, but had disclosed only about one.

'Out of two other mobile phones, one could be identified and its simcard data is retrieved.

It is essential to recover third device for which his custodial interrogation is required to locate the said cell phone,' the court said in its order.

The court also directed the agency to provide adequate Ayurvedic treatment to the accused as and when required and for him to be interrogated during daytime with at least a one hour break after every two hours, for rest and relaxation.

Interrogation during untimely hours shall be avoided to ensure comfortable sleep to the accused, the court said.

The agency had on November 24 arrested Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister,in connection with the gold smuggling case.

The Customs has said it has arrested around 15people, including Swapna Suresh, Sarith and Sandeep Nair, over the seizure of 30 kg gold from a diplomatic baggage of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Enforcement Directorate and Customs are conducting separate investigations into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold.

The IAS officer was suspended after his links to Suresh, a former employee of the consulate, surfaced. PTI TGB APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR