Relief to Kerala UDF in bar bribery case

Vigilance probe team seeks closure of the case.

By Tk Devasla

Published: Sun 14 Jun 2015, 10:49 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:57 PM

Trivandrum — Kerala’s Congress-led ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), facing a tough assembly by-election, has heaved a sigh of relief with the vigilance probe team seeking closure of the bar bribery case that kicked off a political storm in the state “for want of evidence”.

While a vigilance team that conducted a quick verification into the allegations against Excise Minister K Babu has given him a clean chit, Sheik Darvesh Sahib, head of the team that investigated the allegations against Finance Minister K M Mani, reported lack of substantial evidence to file a chargesheet against him.  The two reports have been submitted to the Vigilance Director Vincent M Paul for his approval. Earlier, vigilance legal advisor CC Augustine had also found the evidence gathered by the investigation team insufficient to prosecute Mani.

Communist Party of India (Marxist)-opposition Left Democratic Front has questioned the findings. Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan alleged pressure on the vigilance from the government to spare the ministers. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said there was no need for the probe team to judge the evidence. The court will do this. Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the government had no role in the investigation as it was directly supervised by the vigilance court.

Chief Minister Ommen Chandy alleged a conspiracy behind the allegations levelled by the bar owners against the two ministers and warned that they will have to pay a big price for dragging them into unnecessary controversy. He termed the scam a political conspiracy. 

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