Kerala bar bribery case back in focus

The shadow of the bar licence renewal bribery case that rocked the Oommen Chandy government in 2015 and cost Kerala Congress (M) leader K.M. Mani his Cabinet berth seems to have reappeared to bedevil the ruling front and the Opposition in the election year.

Bar owner Biju Ramesh, the complainant in the case, claimed on Monday that KC(M) leader Jose K. Mani had offered him ₹10 crore that year to drop the accusation and the CPI(M) asked him not to entertain the entreaty. Mr. Mani rejected the charge and said it was another attempt to tarnish the political legacy of K.M. Mani. Mr. Ramesh is a former acting president of Kerala Bar Hotel Association (KBHA).

Mr. Ramesh’s statement comes close on the heels of the leak on Sunday of a questionable private investigation report of 2015 that claimed that K.M. Mani was the victim of a conspiracy to install the then Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala at the helm of the United Democratic Front government. It had named Mr. Ramesh as one of the conspirators.

The report said the plotters viewed K.M. Mani as supportive of Mr. Chandy and an impediment to their scheme. They, therefore, hatched the bar case to render him politically impotent. A private agency probed the matter confidentially at the behest of K.M. Mani.

The report appeared in the media after Left Democratic Front leaders signalled on Friday that they were not averse to accommodating Mr. Mani in the ruling front. Mr. Mani said the report did not have the imprimatur of the KC(M).

The charge against K.M. Mani was that he sought and received illegal gratification from KBHA to expedite the relicensing of more than 300 bars the government had shut down on the premise that they were unhygienic.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 7:27:01 AM |

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