M Sivasankar returns after 17-month suspension, made principal secy of sports & youth affairs

M Sivasankar

Thiruvananthapuram: On his return to service after serving a 17-month suspension in the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case, senior IAS officer, M Sivasankar has been given the charge of principal secretary of sport and youth affairs.

The former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had rejoined on Thursday.

Sivasankar has been appointed as the Principal Secretary of the Sports and Youth Department. Currently, Principal Secretary of Industries Department, and Department of Education Mohammed Hanish was handling the additional charge of Principal Secretary, Sports and Youth Department.

Sivasankar will be working under two ministers- Sports Minister V Abdurahiman and Youth Minister Saji Cherian.

The chief minister's office had revoked the suspension of the senior bureaucrat on Tuesday. A government order was issued by the chief secretary in this regard after the CM ratified an official recommendation.

Sivasankar had been suspended for a year and five months for his alleged involvement in the high-profile gold smuggling scam that rocked the state during the term of the previous Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government. Sivasankar is the 29th accused in the Customs'charge-sheet.

The suspension of Sivasankar, who has just a year left in service, had been extended twice.

Sivasankar was suspended from service on July 16, 2020, after a government panel found that he was involved in the appointment of Swapna Suresh, a prime accused in the gold smuggling scam, in a government project flouting rules.

The suspension that was to expire on July 15, 2021 was extended for six months after he was arrested and arraigned as an accused in the criminal case. The suspension was based on the service rules, according to which he could be kept out until acquitted.

In October 2020, Sivasankar was arrested and for 98 days he was in jail. Sivasankar was released from prison on February 4 last year after which he got bail.

Sivasankar is accused of using his clout in the CM's office to appoint Suresh to a high-paying position in the IT department.

The smuggling case came to light on July 5, 2020, when the Customs arrested Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, for allegedly smuggling gold in diplomatic baggage destined for the Consulate.

Swapna Suresh, who previously worked in the UAE Consulate, and her associate Sandip Nair were arrested in the case by the NIA from Bengaluru a few days later.

Trouble started for Sivasankar after Swapna's arrest following which stories of the relation between the two came out.

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