Bar bribery scam: Kerala excise minister K Babu resigns

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016,16:07 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Kochi | The bar bribery scam turned into a murky situation for the ruling front in Kerala today as another minister forced to tender his resignation owing to a court directive.
Excise minister K Babu who allegedly took 10 crore rupees bribe from bar hotel owners for favouring their interest in the excise policy, submitted his resignation to the chief minister.
The vigilance court in Thrissur today directed Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau to register a case against Babu and initiate an inquiry on a PIL filed by George Vattukulam after allegations  levelled against the minister by bar hotel owners association president Biju Ramesh.
The state police vigilance wing had conducted a quick verification and exonerated Babu in the case, but the court turned it down. The chief minister is yet to formally accept the resignation and forward it to the Governor.
Babu alleged that his resignation comes after a purported conspiracy involving CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and V Shivankutty MLA at the latter’s house in Thiruvananthapuram with four bar hotel owners including Biju Ramesh. However V Shivankutty denied the allegation.
In a similar situation and opposing court reference that came, two months earlier then Finance Minister K M Mani of Kerala Congress (M) also had to resign for his involvement in the bar bribery scam.
Addressing a press conference here, Babu said he had handed over his resignation to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and was quitting on moral grounds even though no FIR had been registered against him as of now.
Terming the Vigilance court verdict as unnatural, Babu said he would go ahead with legal proceedings to prove his innocence.
In an apparent reference to the liquor policy of the UDF government to close down more than 700 bar hotels as part of its prohibition plan, he described himself as a ‘martyr’ for implementing a government scheme for the welfare of the society.
He also claimed he was a ‘victim’ of conspiracy by bar owners who had incurred heavy loss and who also got support of CPI(M).
Babu alleged that some bar owners had met at the residence of  CPI(M) MLA Shivankutty’s house on the evening of December 15 in the presence of CPI-M state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
A conspiracy was hatched against me after over 730 bars were closed, he said adding he had been an MLA for 25 years and had come from a humble background. I had always maintained that I will not stick on to power on technical grounds, he said.
Working President of Kerala Bar Owners Association Biju Ramesh had alleged that Rs 10 crore was given to Babu for renewal of licences of liquor bars. It was on his allegations that the Vigilance had filed a case against Mani.