Vijayan petitions PM against 'roving' inquiry by central probe

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agencies, seeks corrective steps Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 17 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing central probe agencies of carrying out a 'roving' inquiry over the gold smuggling case and saying it was 'demotivating honest officers' causing serious governanceissues in the state.

Vijayan shot off a letter to Modi seeking his 'intervention so that corrective steps are taken' as he questioned the progress in the five-month long investigation by the Customs, the ED and the NIA into the smuggling of gold using diplomatic channel through the airport here.

The letter by the Marxist veteran, who last week alleged the central agencies were being 'misused to destabilise' state governments ruled by opposition parties, came on a day when his Additional Private Secretary C M Raveendran appeared before the Enforcement Directorate probing the money trail in the case.

Earlier, Vijayan's former principal secretary and suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar has been arrested by the agencies in connection with the smuggling case.

The chief minister has maintained stern action would be taken against anyone involved and that it was he who wanted a central probe into the racket while the opposition parties have been turning the heat on him over the issue.

Besides the Customs, which seized the gold from a diplomatic baggage on July 5, the ED and the National Investigation Agency were also probing the case.

'I am bringing these facts to your kind attention for your intervention so that corrective steps are taken at least at this juncture,' Vijayan said in the four-page letter to Modi.

He said the inquiries should not become fishing expeditions leading to total loss of credibility of the central investigating agencies.

Any 'transgression of constitutional divisions of power' by conducting a roving enquiry to review the projects of the state governmentwith the intention of fault finding is not within the provinceof the central investigatingagencies.

'Though the central investigating agencies have every right to marshal facts and seek to find the truth of the allegations, which they are enquiring into, travelling beyond this will rob these agencies of the impartiality and fairness they ought to have, and will result in their loss of credibility.

'This will have wider adverse ramifications,' he added.

Vijayan alleged 'orchestratedcampaigns to defame' the political leadershipof the state government was being carried out in a consistent manner seemingly with the cooperation of certain officials of the investigating agencies.

'After five months, neither the source nor the end utilisation of gold which have been smuggled have been unravelled. No headway has been made in apprehendingthe suspects who are abroad. Instead, the aim of the central agencies seems to be tarnishing the image of the state government,' he said.

The ED has called for all documents of the state projects like K-FON, for providing free internet to poorer sections of society, and the Electric Vehicle policy, he said.

It's probe was initiatedon the basis of the case registered by the NIA regarding gold smuggling case but was later turned towards omissionand kickbackspaid by a contractor of a housing project at Vadakkanchery in Thrissur, Vijayan said.

The Chief Minister also said the CBI filed an FIR on September 24 on a complaint filed by an MLA just four days earlier without any preliminary inquiry and referred to the interim stay ordered by the Kerala High Court in the matter.

Vijayan said the central agencies were 'doing everything else' instead of conducting an effective and coordinated inquiry into the gold smuggling case and the statements given by accused/witnesses were being selectively leaked to the electronic and print media.

The probe by various agencies was a major campaign plank of the Opposition Congress and the BJP in the recently concluded three-phase local body polls.

After the ruling LDF was set to make a sweep of the polls, Vijayan had on Wednesday said Keralites have given a befitting reply to the 'joint effort of power brokers, fake campaigners and the central agencies spreading fake news.' PTI RRT VS VS