In a setback to the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala, Excise Minister K. Babu on Saturday resigned after a court in Thrissur ordered the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau to register a case against him in the bar bribery scam.
The Vigilance Court also ordered that the first report in the case should be filed by February 22.
The order was issued by Thrissur Vigilance Court Judge S.S. Vasan, who criticised the Vigilance for the slow progress in filing quick verification report (QVR) ordered earlier by the court.
The court also ordered that a case be registered against Biju Ramesh, bar hotelier, who had levelled the bribery allegations against the Minister.
Terming the verdict as “unnatural”, Babu said he would go ahead with legal proceedings to prove his innocence.
Babu 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 a CPI(M) MLA on the evening of December 15 in the “presence of party leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan”.
“A conspiracy was hatched against me after over 730 bars were closed,” he said.
Achuthanandan demands Babu’s resignation
Babu will be the second Minister to be booked by the Vigilance over the bar bribery charges after the then-Finance Minister >K.M. Mani , who quit in November 2015 following adverse remarks by the High Court against him in the matter.
Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan sought Babu’s resignation immediately. “ >Babu should resign without any delay,” he demanded.
The court also expressed displeasure at the contention of the Vigilance that the transfer of an SP was one of the reasons for the delay in completing QVR the report.
The judge wanted to know if the Vigilance had taken evidence from Babu and whether his home and assets had been searched for the alleged bribe amount.