In a new development in the Kerala Bar bribe case, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (V&ACB) has submitted a fresh report in the Thiruvananthapuram Vigilance Court in favour of former finance minister KM Mani.
The Kerala Congress (M) leader was accused of taking bribes from bar owners for forming new liquor policy in the state.
The V&ACB have now submitted a report in the Thiruvananthapuram Vigilance Court stating that there is no scientific evidence against KM Mani.
The report also alleges the evidence provided by bar owner Biju Ramesh was tampered with.
The fresh report will come as a huge boost to the former minister and his party which has reportedly been in talks with CPI(M) to enter the Left Democratic Front.
However CPI, the second largest party in the coalition, have not entertained this move.
The prime opposition, UDF, will raise this issue in the assembly as CPI(M) carried out violent protests against KM Mani when UDF was in power.
The UDF alleges that the recent development has been influenced by CPI(M) to rope in Kerala Congress (M) into the LDF.
The V&ACB had in 2014 registered a case against then finance minister KM Mani after complaints emerged that he had received bribes from bar owners.
Biju Ramesh, a business man and owner of a hotel chain in Kerala, came out in the open alleging that KM Mani had received a bribe of Rs 1 crore from him for granting permission to open new bars in the state.
During the initial phase of investigation SP Sukeshan, one of the investigating officers, said that there was prima facie evidence against Mani.
However in July 2015 the V&ACB submitted a report in the court stating that there was no evidence against the minister.
But Mani’s joy was short-lived as then leader of opposition VS Achuthanandan moved to higher court challenging the vigilance report.
Considering the petition, the court ordered further investigations into the allegation. This came as a huge blow to Mani as he had to step down from the cabinet in November 2015.
In 2016, the V&ACB reiterated their stand as they submitted a fresh report giving a clean chit to Mani. This was also challenged by the opposition making way for further enquiry.
Now the third report too says that there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove Mani had taken bribes from bar owners.