Thiruvananthapuram | Opposition LDF today staged a walkout in Kerala Assembly in protest against denial of permission for adjournment motion seeking discussion over state Vigilance department’s decision not to prosecute Finance Minister K M Mani in the bar bribery scam.
Replying to the notice for the motion, sought to be moved by the the CPI(M)-led LDF, state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said Vigilance was yet to submit the probe report in court and the Opposition was seeking a debate on a matter based on media reports.
The government cannot carry on the investigation based on rumours and media reports, he said. Stating that the state government had never intervened at any time during the investigation, Chennithala said the probe was progressing in a free and fair manner.
Justifying the Vigilance’s action seeking legal opinion in the bar scam from former Solicitor General L Nageswara Rao, Chennithala said earlier also the anti-corruption department has sought legal opinion in several cases. The Kerala Home Minister also rejected Opposition allegation that the Vigilance chief altered the factual report prepared by the investigating officer and sought a new one.
Seeking notice for the adjournment motion, S Sharma (CPI-M) alleged that government had interfered in the probe and the investigating officers were denied chances to submit a free and fair probe report. He also said it would not be sub-judice to discuss the matter in the House as the charge sheet in the case was not filed in the court.
Referring to media reports, he said Vigilance SP Sukesan had stated that there were more than 60 per cent evidence against Mani in the bar bribery case.
Intervening in the issue, CPI(M) deputy Leader in the House, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said it was unjustifiable on the part of the Vigilance to seek legal opinion from Nageswara Rao, who had earlier appeared in the Supreme Court for a section of bar owners in a case. Why should Vigilance approach Rao who appeared for bar owners?, Balakrishnan, also CPI(M) state secretary, asked.
LDF also tried to corner Chennithala highlighting his recent Facebook posting which stated that he had to face pressure from UDF and Congress in the case. Taking up the issue, A K Balan of CPI(M) wanted to know from the Home Minister what type of pressure he had to face on the matter.
Chennithala said it was natural to have pressure as it was one of the rarest of the rare cases in the recent past in Kerala. After the minister’s reply, Speaker N Sakthan disallowed the plea for the motion, leading to the LDF staging a walkout led by opposition leader V S Achuthanandan.
Before staging the walkout, Achuthananandan said Opposition’s apprehension that the case would be sabotaged has been proved now. Vigilance had filed FIR against Mani on the basis of an allegation by Biju Ramesh, working president of Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association, that the Finance Minister had demanded Rs five crore bribe as illegal gratification to facilitate the renewal of bar licenses and had received Rs one crore from the office bearers of the association between March 20 and April 2 last year.
The full-fledged budget session of the state Assembly began today after it was rescheduled in the wake of the June 27 Aruvikkara bypoll.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.