THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan on Tuesday gave permission to the state government to launch a vigilance probe against Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala in the backdrop of the recent allegations surrounding the bar bribery case. The inquiry is likely to begin from Wednesday. The Speaker also gave his nod to proceed with the investigation against IUML leader KM Shaji, MLA, in connection with the illegal wealth acquisition case registered against him.
The jolt for the Congress comes over a week after hotelier Biju Ramesh raised the allegation that Chennithala had accepted a bribe of `1 crore from the Kerala Bar Hotel Association (KBHA), during the Chandy government’s tenure, to roll back a proposed bar licence fee hike.
Sleuths will soon record statements of Chennithala and former UDF ministers V S Sivakumar and K Babu, sources said. As Chennithala was the KPCC president and not a minister then, the state government’s legal counsel had suggested that the Governor’s approval was not required to initiate a vigilance probe against him.
Bar bribery: Probe against Jose K Mani unlikely
The vigilance had earlier approached the government seeking permission to initiate probe against Chennithala, reportedly based on certain facts they had come across during a quick verification of Biju’s allegations. On November 24, Biju had alleged that bar owners had handed over a total of `20 crore to several leaders and ministers of the previous UDF government, including then KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, former excise minister K Babu and former health minister V S Sivakumar.
He also accused KC(M) leader Jose K Mani of threatening to eliminate him if he did not withdraw the complaint against his father and former finance minister K M Mani. When he did not relent, Jose offered him `10 crore, he alleged. However, considering the current political scenario, the state government is unlikely to launch a probe against Jose. Meanwhile, Chennithala has termed the Speaker’s action “politically motivated”.
Speaker to decide on motion against Isaac
T’Puram: Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan will take a decision on the notice for breach of privilege motion against Finance Minister Thomas Isaac on Wednesday. The latter visited the Speaker to explain his position on the notice served in connection with disclosing the CAG report to media before it was tabled in Assembly, on Monday. The Speaker on Tuesday gave permission to the government to go ahead with the Vigilance probe against two opposition legislators, including Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala. The Vigilance probe against Chennithala is based on the disclosure by hotelier Biju Ramesh. The Speaker also gave nod for the investigation against Azhikode MLA K M Shaji in the disproportionate asset case.