Fall of a highly reputed IAS officer, M Sivasankar

Fall of a highly reputed IAS officer, M Sivasankar

Sivasankar was arrested yesterday and is in ED custody in a case related to the smuggling of gold using diplomatic baggage as cover

M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister, arrives at National Investigation Agency (NIA) office for further interrogation in the high-profile Kerala gold smuggling case. Credit: PTI Photo

From a second rank holder in Class 10 examination to a fifth accused in a money laundering case, Kerala Chief Minister's former principal secretary M Sivasankar has been so far considered as a no-nonsense officer.

Even after facing serious allegations over the last couple of months owing to his nexus with gold smugglers, Sivasankar's social media page has been witnessing many posting messages hailing his career as an IAS officer.

Also Read | Gold smuggling case: Left government on the backfoot in Kerala after Sivasankar's arrest

Sivasankar, who joined state service as deputy collector and later conferred with IAS in 1995, has been widely credited for many IT initiatives like the Akshaya centres across Kerala aimed at imparting computer literacy and delivering IT-enabled government services to the grassroots. While in charge as IT secretary, the engineering degree holder, initiated many steps for promoting start-ups and attracting IT companies to Kerala. As Kerala State Electricity Board chairman he brought in professionalism in the organisation by setting up a call centre for addressing consumer grievances and minimising distribution loss. As sports secretary, he managed to conduct the National Games quite smoothly.

While Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan handpicked Sivasankar as his secretary the day he took over as Chief Minister, it was widely considered a very positive move owing to the high credentials of Sivasankar, who is now 57.

Also Read | Gold smuggling case: Sivasankar sent to 7-day custody

However, the move had reportedly not gone down well with many senior IAS officers as they felt that Sivasankar was playing the role of a super chief secretary. Sivasankar was often accused of bypassing government procedures to ensure speedy action. This was evident in a recent row over Kerala government engaging US firm Sprinklr for Covid-19 data analysis. Sivasankar had said that he skipped the vetting process by various departments as he was convinced of the data security in the deal.

It could be owing to the high credentials of Sivasankar that Vijayan even made him the point of contact in Kerala government for the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. However, Vijayan seems to be now paying price for that move.

Sources close to Sivasankar still firmly believe that he would not knowingly get involved in illegal activities. He could have been taken for a ride by Swapna Suresh, the key accused in the gold smuggling case and a former executive secretary at the UAE consulate.