Kochi: In a baffling move, a few Customs officials, who are currently facing a departmental inquiry for serious charges of professional misconduct, have been assigned the task of conducting an adjudication process at the Customs Preventive Wing with regard to the sensational Thiruvananthapuram gold and dollar smuggling cases.
It is alleged that such postings were made to subvert the current investigation into the gold and dollar smuggling cases that has rocked the State. Top IAS officer M Sivasankar, his former aide Swapna Suresh and a few others are accused in the cases.
About 10 out of 11 officials who were posted for the adjudication task are facing an inquiry by the CBI in connection with the allegation that they favoured smuggling activities at the Calicut International Airport while working there.
Many products, which were taken out of the airport without getting the clearance of the Customs Department, were caught in January 2021 in a combined raid by the CBI and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
Later, cases were registered against 11 officials by the CBI Kochi unit. Some of these officials, who completed a one-year suspension period, are currently undertaking the adjudication work. Some others involved in the case are working in the statistics and technical wings. Except for one person who applied for voluntary retirement from the service, all others are working in the Customs unit at Kochi.
The adjudication process gives the accused in the gold-dollar smuggling cases a chance to give their statement before the beginning of the trial.
What Customs dept says
But sources in the Customs Department clarified that these officials were posted in comparatively a less important section dealing with adjudication since they cannot be given crucial and important jobs at places like airports.
It was further clarified that the adjudication work was progressing under the direct supervision and control of the Customs Preventive Commissioner and these officers were doing mere paperwork.
They cannot do any malpractice in the adjudication work or subvert the investigation into the gold-dollar smuggling case, Customs sources further added.