Kochi | Kerala government today informed the high court that the vigilance probe in the bar bribe case has not found any definite evidence against state Finance Minister K M Mani. A statement in this regard was made by Advocate General in the court while considering a PIL filed by CPI MLA V S Sunilkumar, seeking to speed up the vigilance probe in the case.
The vigilance department has examined 19 witnesses including CPI(M) veteran and Opposition leader in state assembly V S Achuthanandan. None of the witnesses has direct knowledge regarding receipt of bribe, the court was told. Thirteen more witnesses are yet to be questioned in the case which included the office bearers of Kerala Bar Hotel Association, it was stated.
The case will be taken up tomorrow by the Division Bench consisting of Acting Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A M Shaffique. The case related to the allegation of Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association Working President Biju Ramesh that Mani had taken Rs one crore and demanded Rs five crore on the promise of reopening 418 closed bars from owners.
A few months ago, the government had ordered closure of all bars, except those attached to five-star hotels as part of its move to take the state to total prohibition in 10 years. Earlier, the government had declined to renew licences of 418 bars for lack of required facilities.
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