The Vigilance Special Court at Thiruvananthapuram has ordered further probe against the former Finance Minister and Kerala Congress- M (KCM) leader K M Mani in the bar bribery scam. The order comes after a major expose on Saturday, in which the Vigilance officer who probed the allegations against Mani filed an affidavit before the court alleging that the former Vigilance Director N Shanker Reddy torpedoed the investigation.    

 

Vigilance Superintendent of Police (SP) R Sukeshan informed the court that Reddy manipulated the case diary and dismissed the probe report that recommended filing a charge sheet against Mani.  The SP also requested the court that further probe should be conducted in the bar bribery scam.

 

Shanker Reddy was the Vigilance Director during the previous UDF government in which Mani served as the Finance Minister. The KCM leader had to resign in November 2015 as the minister following adverse comments by the High Court in connection with the case.
 

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In January this year, in a report submitted before the Vigilance Special Court, the Vigilance had submitted a report seeking closure of the case against Mani as it did not find evidence to prove the allegations against the KCM leader.

 

The Vigilance had filed an FIR against Mani after the mandatory quick verification into the allegations made by by Kerala State Bar Hotel Owners Association working President Biju Ramesh who alleged that in October 2014 that the KCM leader, who was the Finance Minister then,had demanded Rs. 5 crore for the renewal of licenses to more than 400 bar hotels. An FIR had been filed against Mani in the court after a quick verification by the Vigilance Bureau on the allegations made by Kerala State Bar Hotel Owners Association working President Biju Ramesh.

 

The probe into the allegations saw many flip flops since the allegations were raised in 2014. In October 2015, the court had rejected a Vigilance first report exonerating Mani. In a second report, the Vigilance sought the closure of the case pointing out that the UDF ministry had not taken any decision in favour of the bar owners in the state and hence the allegations of bribe did not hold water.
 

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Mani and the KCM severed ties with the Congress-led UDF in the state recently alleging that the plot against the party and its leader in the bar bribery case was hatched by some Congress leaders, an indirect reference to Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.


The Congress and the UDF had always maintained that the bar bribe allegations were aimed at tarnishing the image of the front and the Oommen Chandy government. 

 

After KCM left the UDF, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) had started attempts to woo the party. The CPM had invited Mani to join hands in an issue-based manner. But after the Vigilance Court order on Saturday morning, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan stated that the party will never truck with the corrupt.