Thiruvanathapuram: An intense trail of a missing iPhone too is part of the parallel but overlapping investigations into the politically sensitive gold-smuggling and Life Mission graft cases that are on in Kerala.
Investigating agencies, including those of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, are yet to account for one of the several iPhones gifted by Santhosh Eapen, the managing Director of Kochi-based Unitac Builders and Developers to various state government officials in the wake of a real-estate deal.
Mystery surrounds the person who received the costliest model among the iPhones presented by Santhosh through Swapna Suresh, the intermediary in the building contract that Unitac had entered to with UAE-based Red Crescent for raising flats for the poor as part of Kerala government's Life Mission Project.
Swapna is a prime accused in the gold smuggling case.
Eapen, in an affidavit filed before the Kerala High Court, had said that Swapna had asked him to buy five iPhones and pay a commission of Rs 4.48 crore to secure the construction contract.
M Sivasankar, the former principal secretary to the chief minister who is now under arrest, was found to be using one of these phones costing Rs 99,900. These developments have also led the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to search for the missing iPhone.
A P Rajeevan, an employee of the Kerala Secretariat, has deposited an iPhone with the General Administration Department. However, the government faces legal hurdles in accepting it.
The phone is presently kept at the housekeeping section in the Secretariat. Even though the Secretary, General Administration Department, submitted a file to the chief secretary mentioning its return, the latter has taken no decision. According to the chief secretary, he alone cannot decide on the fate of a phone which was accepted violating the service rules for government officials.
Rajeevan is an assistant protocol officer at the seat of the Kerala government.
He happened to be in possession of one among the five iPhones presented by Santhosh. It too was gifted likely as a token of gratitude by the developer who had secured a construction contract under the Life Mission Project of the Kerala Government.
When a controversy erupted in the wake of the probe into the kickback deal in the building project, Rajeevan returned it to the government after removing the SIM card and deleting all data.
According to the Government Service Rule 6 of 1960, employees or their family members should not accept any gift without permission from the government. Based on this, Rajeevan is likely to face departmental action. However, as there is no provision under which the government can accept the phone, it could be given back to Rajeevan.