Vigilance clean chit to Kerala’s ex-minister Mani

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 13 (IANS) Kerala’s former finance minister K.M. Mani, who resigned last year after the high court gave directions for further probe in the bar bribery scam, got a reprieve on Wednesday when the vigilance probe team gave him a clean chit.

“Truth will triumph always, and since the matter is sub-judice, I do not wish to say anything more,” said the 82-year-old Mani, responding to the report that the vigilance department has given him a clean chit.

The probe team had last year submitted in the vigilance court that there was no evidence against Mani, but the court directed the probe team to conduct further investigation.

The vigilance department, however, approached the Kerala High Court seeking removal of a remark against the vigilance director by the vigilance court.

But the high court not only upheld the lower court’s further probe, it also made an indirect reference to Mani, and this forced Mani to resign on November 10 last year.

The new report which cleared Mani will now be submitted by the vigilance director to the vigilance court.

The case surfaced in October 2014 when whistle-blower bar owner Biju Ramesh alleged that Mani was given Rs.1 crore as bribe by Kerala’s bar owners to see that the 418 closed bars in the state were reopened.

Asked about the new developments, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said: “Did we all not say the same thing all along, that there was nothing in the case?”

Asked if Mani will return to present the next budget to be presented next month, he said: “The decision to resign was taken by Mani.”

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