Vigilance move not to prosecute minister fuels protests

The opposition leader has termed the vigilance director’s decision as a challenge the rule of law.

By T K Devasla

Published: Mon 29 Jun 2015, 9:02 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:59 PM

Trivandrum — Kerala Vigilance Director Vincent M Paul’s decision not to prosecute Finance Minister K M Mani in the bar bribery scam has fueled strong protests in the state.

Coming down heavily on the vigilance chief, opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said that he will move the high court for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the allegation that Mani had received a bribe of Rs10 million from bar owners for reopening the closed bars.

Kerala Bar Hotel Owners’ Association working president Biju Ramesh, who leveled the allegation, said that he will also move the court for a probe by the federal agency. The vigilance director took the crucial decision after seeking the legal opinion of former additional solicitor general of India Nageshwara Rao. The vigilance legal officer had also tendered a similar advice earlier.

The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had approached Rao after Solicitor-General of India failed to respond to their plea.  The legal advisors opined that the evidence gathered by the investigating team was not sufficient to prosecute the minister.

The opposition leader has termed the vigilance director’s decision as a challenge the rule of law.

He said that the decision was the result of political pressure mounted on him by the United Democratic Front (UDF) government.

“Vigilance director, who is duty-bound to function impartially and fairly, has bowed down to political pressure and used his power to help the government. What he has done is injustice and his actions are mysterious,” he added.

He pointed out that the head of the investigation had made it clear that the evidence they gathered was sufficient to file the chargesheet in the case.

R Sukeshan, Superintendent of Police, who headed the team, had alleged big pressure on him and had even contemplated suicide, Achuthanandan pointed out.

The opposition leader said that the high court had appointed an amicus curie to submit suggestions for revamping the organisation as it had suspicion over the fairness and impartiality of the agency. He said he will become a party to the case and demand a CBI probe.

The whistle blower in the case has also indicated his plan to move the high court.

He alleged that the VACB had decided not to prosecute the Mani for favouring the UDF government.

He said that Vincent, who is considered as an upright officer, had done this following a plum post after his retirement.

Meanwhile, the finance minister has termed the decision as a victory of the truth. He told reports at his home town of Palai on Sunday he was implicated in the case by fabricating evidence.

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