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Bar scam: VS to challenge Vigilance’s decision in HC

VSThiruvananthapuram: Slamming the state Vigilance Director for deciding not to prosecute Finance Minister K M Mani in the bar bribe scam, veteran Marxist leader V S Achuthanandan today said he would challenge the decision in the Kerala High Court.

The official’s action was ‘unjust,’ ‘mysterious’ and a ‘challenge to the legal system,’ Achuthanandan told reporters here.

The Opposition leader also wanted to know on whose direction the Vigilance chief had sought legal opinion from former Solicitor General L Nageswara Rao in the case.

Vigilance Director Vinson M Paul had yesterday decided not to prosecute Mani, facing charges in the scam and ordered the investigating officer to file a closure report in the Vigilance Court here.

Replying to a question, Achuthanandan said he had already demanded CBI probe into the issue.

‘The relevance of my demand has now increased in the wake of the recent developments. I will challenge the Vigilance’s decision in the High Court,’ he said.

The 92-year-old leader also accused the Vigilance of not carrying out raids at Mani’s residence and confiscating crucial evidence to prove the minister’s involvement in the case.

Meanwhile, Mani told reporters at Pala, his home constituency, that the scam was a well-scripted one, with fake documents and evidence created to nail him. He also expressed confidence that the truth would come out.

The case against Mani, who is Kerala Congress(M) supremo, was registered on the basis of statements given by some of those questioned by investigators as part of a preliminary inquiry into the allegation that he had taken a hefty sum as bribe from bar owners for a decision favourable to them.

The Vigilance had filed FIR against Mani on the basis of a complaint by Biju Ramesh, working president of Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association, that the finance minister had demanded Rs 5 crore bribe as illegal gratification to facilitate the renewal of bar licenses and had obtained Rs 1 crore from the office bearers of the association between March 20 and April 2 last year.

With PTI inputs.

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