Kerala Assembly Speaker's Assistant Private Secretary K Ayyappan finally appeared before the Customs on Friday to depose regarding the gold smuggling and US dollar smuggling cases.
The agency had summoned him for questioning on January 5 but he did not comply and instead replied that he cannot appear on a phone call. The Customs officials then sent him an email and directed him to come for questioning, but he responded that he was busy owing to the Budget session and could not come.
The Kerala Assembly's Secretary replied to the Customs that Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan's staff was protected under Section 165 of the House's rules of business and procedures. The opposition strongly opposed it, claiming that the protection was only for elected members of the Assembly and not the Speaker's staff.
In this context, the Customs again sent a notice at Ayyappan's residential address and asked him to appear for questioning on January 8.
Gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh and co-accused PS Sarith had deposed before Customs officials that the Speaker was allegedly involved in extending help in the dollars' smuggling case.
Since Ayyappan was responsible for maintaining the Speaker's travel diary and preparing his tour programmes, the Customs officials had summoned him to corroborate whether there was any match with dates and periods mentioned by the gold smuggling case accused.