NIA may slap UAPA charges against Sivasankar over links to smugglers

NIA moves to slap UAPA against Sivasankar, seeks legal opinion
M Sivasankar. Photo: Manorama

Kochi: Suspended bureaucrat M Sivasankar is likely staring at even harsher times as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has sought legal opinion for slapping a case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against him over his suspected links to the racket that carried out gold smuggling through the diplomatic channel. 

The NIA has been carrying out a probe since July 9 to find out whether the smuggled gold or the money received through it came in the hands of anti-national forces.    

NIA has sought legal opinion to proceed against Sivasankar as some of the earlier findings of its probe had come under a cloud during early trial. The NIA court in Kochi had also given bail to the accused persons who were charged with arranging money for gold smuggling.

Smuggling was included in the list of anti-national acts with an amendment to the UAPA. Accordingly, several suspects in the gold smuggling that was busted by the Customs in July were booked by the NIA under the stringent UAPA provisions.

The sources say that if chief minister's additional private secretary C M Raveendran and Sivasankar were to be questioned jointly then they need to continue in the custody of any of the central agencies. 

The options for central agencies are either retaining them in Customs custody or let NIA arrest and seek their custody.

The Customs is likely to seek extension of his custody period when he is produced in the court on Monday. 

ED notice for Raveendran soon

The ED is likely to issue a notice in a day or two to Raveendran. He will be allotted a fresh date for questioning.

The agency has completed its preliminary probe into Raveendran's assets and is likely to conduct more searches based on the information they receive during the questioning.

Raveendran's questioning, which was initially planned between November 6 and November 27, got delayed as he was down with Covid.

The scrutiny is on Raveendran as his name was reportedly divulged by Sivasankar, his former colleague in the chief minister's office; Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the smuggling and related cases; and Bineesh Kodiyeri who was questioned by ED in connection with the financial transactions related to the Bengaluru drug racket case. 

Former consulate employee questioned

Thiruvananthapuram: In a new development, a Keralite woman who was working as an assistant financial officer at the UAE Consulate here, was questioned by the Customs in the last two days.

She was a subordinate of Egyptian national Khalid Ali Shoukri who was expelled by the Consulate following financial irregularities in 2019. She had resigned shortly before Khalid got the boot. 

Swapna was also expelled from the Consulate after Khalid's expulsion.  

The investigation team suspects that the woman was aware of Swapna and Khalid's transactions. Even after getting a job in another firm in Kochi she occasionally dropped in at the Consulate ostensibly to meet her former colleagues.  

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