The Kerala government on Thursday suspended M Shivashankar, a top IAS officer, who was embroiled in the controversial gold smuggling case. The decision is based on an internal probe headed by the state chief secretary Vishwas Mehta, announced the CM Pinarayi Vijayan.
Shivashankar was a Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and the IT department. He was accused to be close to Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, two main accused in the gold smuggling case investigated by National Investigation Agency currently.
The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kg of gold worth ₹14.82 crore at Trivandrum International Airport on 5 July by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Cochin. The gold was found concealed in imported piping in diplomatic baggage from United Arab Emirates, which is exempted from inspection as per the international guidelines. This is the first such case in the country where gold was tried to smuggle using the cover of diplomatic immunity.
Kerala has been boiling with opposition protests over the case. After Shivashankar’s role emerged in reports, opposition leaders alleged that the smuggling case is linked to the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office, and demanded the resignation of Vijayan. The government had earlier tried to distance itself from the official by removing him from the posts. Politically, Vijayan’s ruling Leftist coalition would use the disciplinary action to come out clean on the controversy.
“The probe found that the has flouted rules of contact for civil service officers. The appointments made by him in the IT department will be investigated further by the panel,” said Vijayan.
NIA is doing a thorough probe in the case and there will be no compromises by the state government to bring to book the culprits, he said.