Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said that the government had not intervened in any manner to thwart the arrest of his former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar, who is facing a probe in the gold smuggling case. "Whatever be the position of a person, if he has done any wrong, he should be punished.
When we came to know that the official had a relation with the accused, he was removed from the position of principal secretary to the chief minister and suspended after inquiry. No one is thwarting the investigation agencies from arresting him," Vijayan told reporters here.
Can the government prevent the arrest in the probe being conducted by the central agency?", he asked. Sivasankar, who had been asked to appear before Customs on Friday, had complained of uneasiness while being taken for questioning and was admitted to a private hospital here.
He was later shifted to the Thiruvananthapuram medical college hospital and was discharged on Monday. The chief minister also lashed out at Union minister V Muraleedharan for his remarks related to the case at a press meet in Delhi, and said he was acting in an immature manner.
"As far as we know, the central agencies are probing the matter well. They are moving forward with their findings. But his interference is an immature act and he is not acting in a manner fit for a union minister," Vijayan said.
Muraleedharan on Friday demanded Vijayan's resignation over the case, alleging that those accused are "hand in glove" with the people in power. Describing as 'baseless' and 'unfortunate' a media report that the state government had tried to thwart the arrest of Sivasankar, he said it was for the Centre to explain the matter related to the probe.
"The state government has offered all assistance to the probe agencies and none of them have ever raised complaints, suggesting that we are not cooperating",Vijayan said. Pointing out that the government wanted a fair and independent investigation to bring the perpetrators to book, he said this was a serious crime impacting the country's economic security.
The chief minister had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a comprehensive probe to get to the root of the smuggling through diplomatic baggage and bring all the culprits to justice. He said on Monday that the probe should be completed properly since a section of the media and opposition parties were attacking the government, "creating a smokescreen of allegations".
The chief minister said the central agencies could take into custody, question or arrest anyone they felt was involved in the crime and none could legally stop it. He said the media house has alleged that the government would not let Sivasankar be arrested and added that those heading the organisation should consider the absurdity of the report.
"As per media reports, it was the Customs who took him to the private hospital from where he was referred to the medical college. How can we stop that? A person being admitted to the hospital and his discharge and all are part of a medical process. We do not have any role in it", Chief Minister said. Meanwhile, Opposition leader in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the 'hospital drama' by Sivasankar was only a ploy to delay his arrest.
Both the chief minister and Sivasankar were mutually helping each other in the case relating to the smuggling of gold through diplomatic baggage, he alleged. The case is being probed by the Customs, Enforcement Directorate and National Investigation Agency.