M Sivasankar is a retired Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer of the 1995-batch Kerala cadre. On 14 February 2023, he made headlines after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for accepting a bribe to facilitate the contract of the LIFE Mission project to a private construction company, Unitac Builders & Developers.
Siva Sankar M , or Sivasankar Nair was born on Thursday, 24 January 1963 (age 60 years; as of 2023) in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. His zodiac sign is Aquarius. Sivasankar enrolled himself at the NSS College of Engineering, Palakkad, Kerala, where he earned a Bachelor of Technology in Instrumentation and Control Systems. He completed his post-graduation in rural management from the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), Gujarat, India.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Colour: Grey
Eye Colour: Black
M Sivasankar (left) with the 12th Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan
Family & Ethnicity
M Sivasankar belongs to a Malayali family.
Parents & Siblings
There is not much information about M Saivasankar’s family or siblings.
Wife & Children
As per some media sources, Sivasankar is married to a woman, who is a doctor whereas the prime accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case Swapna Suresh revealed in her autobiography “Chathiyude Padmavyuham” that M Sivasankar had married her at the Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Chennai.
M Sivasankar with Swapna Suresh
M Sivasankar resides at Devadarsana, Katturoad, opposite Magic Academy, Poojappura, Thiruvananthapuram district, Kerala.
After completing his post-graduation, Sivasankar worked with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for some time. On 1 March 2000, Sivsankar assumed the office as Under Secretary in the Communications & Information Technology department, and later, he was promoted to Deputy Secretary and served the post till June 2001. He was posted as Under Secretary in the Civil Supplies and Food & Public Distribution Department in June 2001, and later, he was promoted to the post of Director in the same department, and he served the position till August 2002. From 2002-2003, Sivasankar served as the Joint Secretary in the Department of Communications & Information Technology. In September 2003, he was posted in Malappuram as District Collector, in the department of District Administration and Land Revenue Management. In 2006, Sivasankar served the Public Instructions Department as Deputy Secretary. Later, he was promoted to the rank of director and served in the same department till 2008. In April 2008, Sivasankar was appointed as Deputy Secretary in the Department of Tourism, and he later was promoted to the post of Director following which he continued to serve the department till 2011. From 2010-2011, he assumed the office as Director of the Non-conventional Energy & Rural Technology Department. In 2011, Sivasankar held the post of Secretary in the Public Works Department (PWD) and Sports Department. Sivasankar, in 2012, served as the Secretary of the General Education Department and the Tribal Welfare Department. The same year, he was appointed as the Joint Secretary to serve the Kerala State Electricity Board and the Sports Department. Later, Sivasankar was promoted to the rank of Chairman of the Kerala State Electricity Board, and he continued to serve in the department till 2016. Sivasankar, in 2016, was appointed as the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Pinarayi Vijayan, who assumed office on 25 May 2016 as the 12th Chief Minister of Kerala. In 2017, he was promoted to the post of Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The same year, he held the position of Principal Secretary in the Department of Information & Technology.
Kerala’s gold smuggling scam 2020
After Sivasankar was suspected of having an alleged connection in the gold smuggling case, he was removed as the Principal Secretary of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on 7 July 2020. However, he continued to serve as the Principal Secretary of the Department of Information Technology and Chairman of the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL). On 16 July 2020, Sivasankar was suspended for a year from his service after he was accused of recommending Swapna Suresh, a prime accused in the scam, for the post of business development manager in the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL). In October 2020, Sivasankar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate and after spending 98 days in prison, he was released on bail on 3 February 2021. On 4 January 2022, after serving a suspension of seventeen months, Sivasankar’s suspension was revoked by the chief minister’s office, and he was reinstated to service on 6 January 2022. He was appointed as the Secretary of the Sports and Youth Affairs department. Later, he was given the additional responsibility of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development.
In April 2022, Sivasankar made a plea to the state government for Voluntary Retirement from Service (VRS). However, his plea was rejected, citing the ongoing investigation against him by the Customs and Enforcement Directorate officials. M Sivasankar, who served as the Secretary of the Sports and Youth Affairs Department, retired from his service on 31 January 2023.
Alleged involvement in the gold smuggling case
On 28 October 2020, M Sivasankar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for his alleged connection in the Kerala gold smuggling case. He was arrested under sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for assisting Swapna Suresh, one of the prime accused in the case. On 5 July 2020, the smuggling case came to light when the Customs officials seized 30 kg of gold worth 15 crores, hidden in one of the consignments at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport. They arrested P Sarith Kumar, a former executive secretary at the UAE Consulate, who was present at the international airport to collect the baggage. The baggage, which carried the smuggled gold was addressed to the UAE Consulate in India. While serving as the Chairman of the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL), Sivasankar recommended Swapna Suresh for the post of business development manager in the organization. It was alleged that Sivasankar convinced his Charted Accountant Venugopal Iyer to open a joint bank locker with Swapna to assist her in laundering the black money and smuggling it to the UAE. However, Sivasankar denied having any association with Swapna and said
I was not aware of their gold smuggling dealings with Swapna. I never accepted their hospitality either at home or abroad.”
Referring to M Sivasankar, the Kerala High court passed the statement regarding his involvement in the case, which read,
The fact that the applicant was in constant contact with one of the prime witnesses, namely Swapna Suresh, and that he had even volunteered to help her by contacting his Chartered Accountant and asking him to assist her in managing her finances indicates that there is a fair possibility that applicant knew about the involvement of Swapna Suresh in the alleged smuggling activity.”
M Sivasankar, taken into custody by Enforcement Directorate on 28 October 2020, for his alleged connection in the gold smuggling case
Arrested for association in the Dollar smuggling case
Following the suspension of Sivasankar for his involvement in the gold smuggling case, he was arrested on 20 January 2021 by the Customs officials for his alleged association in the dollar smuggling case, which came to light while probing for the gold smuggling case. He was accused of assisting a former finance head of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram in smuggling USD 1,90,000 (equivalent to Rs 1.30 crore) to Muscat in Oman. The charge sheet filed by the Customs Department claimed that Sivasankar owned the money, which was seized from the bank locker of Swapna Suresh, the prime accused of the gold smuggling case. The money in Swapna’s bank account was the commission received by Sivasankar in granting the LIFE Mission contract, which was a government scheme to provide shelter to landless and homeless people in Kerala.
Controversy regarding publishing own autobiography
On 5 February 2022, Sivasankar released his autobiography titled “Aswathamavu: Verum Oru Aana” (Aswarthamavu is just an elephant) in which he mentioned the details regarding the gold smuggling case, interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate and the Customs officials, and his experience in the prison. Published by DC Books, Sivasankar’s autobiography stoked controversy as he was accused of violating the UPSC service rules, which restrain a serving bureaucrat from writing down books based on biographies. Additionally, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that Sivasankar had not asked for his permission to pen his autobiography.
M Sivasankar’s autobiography, Aswathamavu Verum Oru Aana
Accused of accepting a bribe in the LIFE Mission project
On 14 February 2023, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested M Sivasankar for his alleged connection in awarding the contract of the Livelihood Inclusion and Financial Empowerment Mission, also known as, the LIFE Mission project. The LIFE Mission project aimed at providing houses at Wadakkanchery in the Thrissur district of Kerala for the poor, who had lost their homes in the horrifying Kerala floods of 2018. The Enforcement directorate alleged that Sivasankar received a bribe of Rs 1 crore for facilitating the LIFE Mission project to the Unitac Builders & Developers, a construction company in Kerala, even before the tender was officially open.
M Sivasankar, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on 14 February 2023, in the LIFE Mission project’s bribery case
- During his college days, Sivasankar supported the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) party.
- In May 2008, Sivasankar was appointed as the director of Kerala Tourism.
- Sivansankar, while serving as the Principal Secretary of the IT department, launched the Akshaya centres across Kerala, which aimed at encouraging computer literacy by providing knowledge related to applications of the computer.
- Sivasankar was diagnosed with cancer and had undergone surgery to recover from it.
- In 2010, Sivasankar took training for the programme “Phase IV Programme of Mandatory Mid-Career Training for IAS Officers.”