Bar scam: Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani resigns

Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani, who is at the centre of the bar scam tendered his resignation on Tuesday.

Bar scam: Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani resigns

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani, who is at the centre of the bar scam tendered his resignation on Tuesday.

Government chief whip and Kerala Congress (M) leader Thomas Unniyadan also announced his resignation along with Mani to express solidarity with his leader.

Addressing reporters at his official residence, the 82-year-old Mani -- who is also the country's longest serving legislator -- said that being the state's law minister, "I have to respect the law and hence I have resigned".

"I take this opportunity to thank the CM and all other leaders who extended support to me."

The development comes a day after, the Kerala High Court upheld the Special Vigilance Court's direction asking for a further probe in the bar scam case in which Mani is alleged to have taken a bribe for opening closed down bars from rich bar owners.

The demand for the Kerala Finance Minister's resignation over the bar scam grew stronger today and both Left and the Congress want the minister out.

Mani heads the Kerala Congress(M), the third largest partner in the ruling coalition with nine MLAs.

The verdict has come as a big blow to the beleaguered 82-year-old Mani, who has the distinction of being a member of the state assembly for 50 years uninterruptedly from 1965.

An FIR was filed against Mani last year after a "quick verification" by the Vigilance department on the charges by Kerala State Bar Hotel Owners' Association working President Biju Ramesh that the Minister had accepted Rs 1 crore as bribe for renewal of licences to more than 400 Indian Made Foreign Liquor bars in the state.

It was on October 29 that the Thiruvananthapuram based vigilance court quashed the clean chit given by the vigilance department that probed the bar scam to Mani and asked for a further probe by the department.

On Monday, the vigilance department brought in former cabinet minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, a lawyer, to argue for it. But Judge Kamal Pasha took a very strong stand and made numerous remarks that left Mani and the Kerala government in a tight spot.

After seven months of investigation, the vigilance department found there was not enough evidence against Mani and they had filed a closure report in the vigilance court that last month quashed the clean chit. It ordered a further probe which was upheld on Monday by the high court.

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