THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has ordered an inquiry into how a person facing trial in a foreign currency smuggling case was allowed to share the dais with him at a function organised by the city police here on Friday.
The Minister told The Hindu on Saturday that he had ordered the Director-General of Police (DGP) Raman Sreevastava to find out "how and why this has happened." The DGP has been told to submit a report on the matter immediately. "Once I get the report, there will be action."
The Minister said he had issued a "general direction" asking police officials to check the "past history and background" of persons they approached for sponsorships or involved in policing initiatives. The DGP has ordered the Inspector-General of Police (South Zone) Arun Kumar Sinha to inquire into the matter. Sources close to the Home Minister said he was upset over the issue and had raised the matter with Home Secretary Lizzie Jacob on Saturday morning.
According to the Home Department, J. S. Prakash, who shared the dais with the Minister, was arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport on August 18, 2003 on the charge of attempting to smuggle Rs.15 lakhs in foreign currency to the Gulf.
Booked under FEMA
He was booked under the provisions of the Customs Act and Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act (FEMA). In 2004, Mr. Prakash, who runs an optical instrument shop in the city, was detained under the provisions of the COFEPOSA (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities) Act at the Central Prison here.
Mr. Prakash was invited to the inauguration of the community policing initiative `Maithri' in reciprocation for sponsoring 350 pairs of `specially designed' sunglasses for traffic policemen.
At the function, the businessman was given a place on the dais alongside the Minister and Additional DGP Rajan Madhekar. The Minister also gave a memento to Mr. Prakash at the instance of senior police officials.
When contacted, City Police Commissioner Manoj Abraham said he was not aware of Mr. Prakash's `background.'