Further probe ordered against Kerala minister in bribery case

Trivandrum - Vigilance court rejects report that gave K M Mani a clean chit in bar bribery case.

By T K Devasia

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Thu 29 Oct 2015, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 30 Oct 2015, 9:15 AM

In a big blow to Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani, a vigilance court here on Thursday rejected a vigilance report that gave him a clean chit in the bar bribery case and ordered further probe into the charge that he received a bribe of Rs10 million for reopening the closed liquor bars.
Disposing 11 petitions, including that of leader of opposition V S Achuthanandan and whistle blower Biju Ramesh, challenging the report seeking closure of the case, Judge John K Illikkadan directed the government to entrust the investigation with the original investigating officer in the case, R Sukesan, who had recommended filing of chargesheet against the minister in the case.
Adding discomfiture to the state government, Vigilance Director Vincent M Paul, who overruled Sukesan, proceeded on leave urging the government to relieve him from the position. He claimed that he had acted strictly in accordance with law that demands concrete evidence to prove that a person had demanded and received bribe to proceed against him in a corruption case.
However, the opposition parties have termed the rejection of the report by the court as a vindication of the investigating officer's finding that there was prima facie case against Mani and demanded the immediate resignation of the minister. The Bharatiya Janata Party has additionally demanded the resignation of chief minister Oommen Chandy as well as home minister Ramesh Chennithala.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) has already launched an agitation to press their demand. The CPI (M) kicked off the agitation by taking out procession to the state secretariat soon after the court verdict.
The finance minister has rejected the demand for his resignation saying that the court had only ordered further investigation and not found him guilty.
He pointed out that courts had ordered several such investigations against chief ministers and ministers in the past and none had resigned. He welcomed the investigation saying it would bring out the truth.
The chief minister and the home minister also backed him saying that the court order could be considered as part of the process of investigation. The home minister pointed out that the government had never interfered with the investigation in the case and the further investigation will also be conducted similarly. The court verdict has come as a major weapon in the hands of the opposition to sharpen the attack on the government in the local body elections just four days away. However, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V M Sudheeran and his party colleagues say it will not have any impact on the election.
They pointed out that the opposition attempt to make the case as a major issue in the Aruvikkara by-election in June this year had failed miserably. The UDF won the poll comfortably.

More news from