A local court in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday ordered further investigations into allegations against Kerala finance minister KM Mani that he accepted a bribe of Rs 1 crore promising to renew bar licences last year.
The vigilance court set aside the vigilance director’s report that gave a clean chit to Mani and rejected the plea of the vigilance bureau to close the case for want of evidence. The vigilance bureau had filed its final report in June saying there was no evidence to frame a chargesheet against the minister and the case should be closed.
The investigating officer wanted to chargesheet Mani but he was overruled by state vigilance director Vinson M Paul.
Last year, the state’s bar hotel owners’ association had alleged that Mani took a bribe of Rs 1 crore from them promising a favorable liquor policy. When the government cancelled licenses of all bars, other than five-star hotels, they filed a complaint against him.
Opposition CPM-led Left Democratic Front had demanded Mani’s resignation and prevented him from presenting the state budget earlier in March leading to a chaos in the state assembly in which five legislators and many security personnel were injured.
Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan and eight others moved the court challenging the director saying he was forced to give a closure report.
Achuthanandan has sought the immediate removal of Mani but the latter welcomed the court decision’s saying a thorough probe would help prove his innocence.
The order comes as a setback for the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front just days before as the state heads into crucial civic elections on November 2 and 5.