The Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau (VACB) filed a case in a special vigilance court here against 81-year-old Finance Minister K.M. Mani over allegations that the Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association gave him a Rs.1 crore bribe to reopen closed bars in the state.
The case was filed against Mani after verification of the allegation that the bar hotel owners association gave him a bribe. Nine witnesses gave evidence that Mani received the bribe.
As the Left opposition demanded that Mani should step down, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who also holds the vigilance portfolio, Thursday told reporters that just because the VACB has registered a case there was no need for the finance minister to resign.
Mani, who is in Delhi for a meeting, said there was no reason for him to resign as when the department completes its investigation, his innocence will be proved.
Mani has been the biggest catch for the VACB in recent days, with the other two being Superintendent of Police Rahul R. Nair and IAS officer and state PWD secretary T.O. Sooraj, both of whom are now under suspension.
Mani holds the record of being the longest serving legislator since 1967, and has been a minister for the longest duration. He has also presented the maximum number of state budgets.
Last month, the VACB first tracked down IPS officer Nair after it was alleged that he took a bribe of Rs.17 lakh from quarry owners.
As soon as the allegation surfaced, Nair was moved out of a plum post to that of commandant of the training wing of the Kerala Police.
When the VACB – headed by Vinson M. Paul – submitted its full report, Nair was suspended from service.
Later, VACB sleuths reached the doorstep of IAS officer Sooraj and found during simultaneous raids that he had amassed huge wealth.
This forced the state government to suspend him too.