The Kerala High Court has denied bail to M. Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and said that he is a person having very much influence in the ruling party, particularly with the CM.

The Court was dealing with a bail plea filed by the petitioner who was alleged to have violated the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act in the Life Mission project.

A Single Bench of Justice A Badharudeen held, “Since it has been discussed that the petitioner is not co-operating with the treatment offered, I am not inclined to release him on medical ground since his sickness would be addressed by the prosecution agency/jail authorities by providing adequate treatment. Similarly, his chance of propensity to tamper with evidence or influencing witnesses, is very much there, since the petitioner is a person having very much influence in the ruling party of Kerala, particularly with the Chief Minister of Kerala.”

The Bench noted that the investigation is at the initial stage and many accused are yet to be arrested.

Senior Advocate Jayadeep Gupta appeared for the petitioner/accused while Advocate Jaishankar V. Nair appeared for the respondents.

Facts -

An application for regular bail was filed under Section 439(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure read with Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). The petitioner was the ninth accused in a case registered by the Enforcement Directorate within the jurisdiction of the Special Court for PMLA Cases.

The petitioner was arrested in connection with the alleged violation of FCRA in Life Mission, a flagship housing project of the government, and the project was conceived by the Kerala government to provide houses for the homeless in the state. The construction of a housing complex was to be undertaken using funds offered by the international humanitarian organisation Red Crescent which was a part of the said project.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel observed, “In the instant case, the petitioner could not be held as a person who would flee from trial. However, his propensity to tamper with the evidence and to influence witnesses could be foreseeable, since the petitioner is a person having very much influence in the ruling party of Kerala, particularly with the Chief Minister of Kerala. It is apposite to refer that even after his initial arrest and subsequent release on bail, the petitioner was reinstated in service w.e.f 6.1.2022 and he continued the same till his retirement holding pivotal post in the State of Kerala, ignoring his involvement in serious crimes.”

The Court further asserted that the involvement of the petitioner in serious crimes prior to the present crime, in no way affected his official stature because of his authority in the State Government.

“In this matter, the investigation is at the initial stage. Many accused are yet to be arrested including Smt.Swapna Prabha Suresh. Why the prosecution is delaying the arrest of Swapna Prabha Suresh is also a matter of serious concern, though she had an active role in the present crime. … the petitioner cannot be released on bail at this stage and this application is liable to be dismissed.”, said the Court.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the bail plea.

Cause Title- M. Sivasankar v. Union of India & Ors.

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