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Hindustan Times
Thiruvananthapuram, February 14, 2011
The Congress on Monday distanced itself from party MP K Sudhakaran’s remark that a Supreme Court judge took Rs. 36 lakh as bribe to lift the Kerala High Court ban on 21 bar hotels in the state. “It is his personal view. The party is not subscribing to it. We always hold the judiciary in high esteem,” Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari said in Delhi. State opposition leader and former CM Oommen Chandy also shared his views. “We can’t agree with Sudhakaran’s remarks,” he said.

Having got an opportunity to embarrass the Congress in the election year, the Left Democratic Front government decided to register a case and start an inquiry into Sudhakaran’s allegations. “It is a serious statement. Police will register a case,” home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said.

The MP had made the remark on Saturday at a reception for former minister R Balakrishna Pillai, who was sentenced to a year’s rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court in a graft case. He said he was witness to an incident where a Supreme Court judge took Rs. 21 lakh from bar owners to get a favourable verdict. The same judge later asked for Rs. 15 lakh more through a messenger, he claimed.

Meanwhile, one of the bar owners, R Vijayakumar, who approached the highest court in 1996, contested Sudhakaran’s remarks. “It may be his imagination. Not 21, 18 bar owners had moved the court. And we all shared the lawyers’ fees equally. I don’t know how such an allegation has come up after 15 years,” he said.