Bar bribery remains a scam without any solid evidence against late Kerala Congress leader KM Mani
Bar owner Biju Radhakrishnan had alleged that Mani had received an amount of Rs 1 crore in three installments from bar owners after promising to review the liquor policy of the UDF Government.
KOCHI: Nearly after four years of probe into the infamous bar bribery scam that cast a shadow on the political life of KM Mani, the case still remains just an allegation against him with no solid evidence being unearthed by the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau (VACB) to prove his role in the scam.
Mani’s name got embroiled in the scam based on only a few statements by bar owner Biju Radhakrishnan who alleged Mani, who was the then Minister for Law and Finance, had received an amount of Rs 1 crore in three installments from bar owners after promising to review the liquor policy of the UDF Government that only permitted sale of alcohol in five-star hotels.
As of now, the case is in a frozen state though the Vigilance court on September 18, 2018, dismissed a report filed by VACB absolving him of all the charges. However, the state government has not initiated any proceedings so far to start a fresh probe. “The investigation couldn’t find any clear evidence though Biju gave a few statements describing Mani’s role in the scam. The department at least needed strong circumstantial evidence to file a chargesheet in the case,” said a senior VACB officer who was in the thick of events. It was the third time the VACB had filed a report before the court submitting there was no evidence against Mani to prove his crime.
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Surprisingly, the third report absolving him was filed after the LDF came to power while the first two which found no evidence against Mani were filed during the UDF rule.
Several twists and turns
The case had many twists and turns. The most interesting one was when Jacob Thomas, who was appointed VACB chief by the LDF Government, later came out in the open saying there was enough evidence against Mani but the report was sabotaged.
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Thomas’ statement was in complete contravention to senior IPS officer Vinson M Paul, who during his tenure as Vigilance chief gave a clean chit to Mani submitting there was no evidence. Another senior IPS officer N Shanker Reddy also faced trouble when allegations were raised against him that he, while heading the Vigilance, sabotaged the bar bribery probe against Mani. However, a Vigilance special court later absolved Reddy of the allegations.