Vigilance probe clears Kerala minister in bar scam

Kerala Finance Minister KM 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.

Kochi: Kerala Finance Minister KM 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 KP 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 VS Sunil Kumar, has directed the probe team to keep the court posted on the progress of the investigation.