The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, on medical grounds in a case of alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
A bench of justices A S Bopanna and M M Sundresh granted relief to Sivasankar for two months to undergo treatment.
“In a matter of present nature where post operative treatment will also be required, the applicant may be released on bail for medical treatment for a period of two months,” the bench said.
The top court directed that Sivasankar would not influence any witness during this period.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and ED, opposed the bail and submitted that he is close to a very high constitutional functionary.
The Kerala High Court on April 13 had denied bail to Sivasankar, noting that he may tamper with evidence as he had influence with the ruling party and the CM.
Sivasankar was arrested on February 14 in connection with the alleged violation of FCRA in Life Mission, a flagship housing project of the Left government.
The project was conceived by the Kerala government to provide houses for the homeless in the state.
As part of the project, the construction of a housing complex at Wadakkancherry was to be undertaken using funds offered by the international humanitarian organisation Red Crescent. The construction contract was awarded to Unitac Builders and Sane Ventures.
The two companies undertook the construction based on an agreement that they entered into with Red Crescent, which had agreed to provide Rs 20 crore towards the Wadakkancherry project of Life Mission.
It has been alleged that Unitac builders gave kickbacks to Sivasankar and the Consul General of the UAE to get the contract.
This came to light when former UAE Consulate employees Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS were arrested by the ED and Customs in another case related to the smuggling of gold into Kerala.
The CBI in 2020 filed an FIR in a Kochi court under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (punishment of criminal conspiracy) and Section 35 of FCRA on a complaint by the then Wadakkanchery MLA and Congress leader Anil Akkara, listing Unitac Builders’ Managing Director Santhosh Eappen as the first accused and the company Sane Ventures as the second accused.
The alleged FCRA violation and corruption in the project had snowballed into a major political issue at the time with opposition parties accusing Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the controversial gold smuggling case, of having admitted before an NIA court that she had received Rs 1 crore as commission for the project.
She had reportedly claimed that the money was meant for Sivasankar.