Vigilance probe clears Kerala minister in bar scam

Kochi: Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani, who is under a cloud over charges of corruption on the bar licence issue, Wednesday got relief after a preliminary probe by the vigilance did not find any evidence against him.

Advocate General K.P. Dandapani submitted a report to a division bench of the Kerala High Court. The probe team took statements from 19 people.

Biju Ramesh, who owns a string of bars, has alleged that Mani was given Rs.1 crore to ensure that the 418 bars in the state are allowed to reopen.

Since then, Mani came under heavy attack from the Left opposition who demanded that the 81-year-old legislator who has won every election he contested since 1965 should quit.

To cool down tempers, the state government asked the vigilance department to conduct a quick verification on the allegation.

The high court, acting on a petition filed by Communist Party of India (CPI) legislator V.S. Sunil Kumar, has directed the probe team to keep the court posted on the progress of the investigation.

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