Bar scam a political conspiracy: Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram, June 13 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday dubbed the bar scam rocking the state as a “political conspiracy” and warned that those behind it “will have to pay a heavy price”.

“The baseless allegations in the bar scam is nothing but political conspiracy. In all, 309 people were summoned as witness in the case. Nothing was brushed under the carpet. Those behind this case will have to pay a heavy price,” Chandy told the media here during campaigning for the Aruvikara legislative assembly segment, where by-election will be held later this month.

Chandy’s statement comes a day after it surfaced that legal opinion on vigilance department’s detailed probe – first against Mani and then against Babu – maintained that the case will not pass muster in a court of law. The legal opinion was also for the closure of the case “for want of evidence”.

This opinion has since been passed on by the probe team to vigilance department chief Vinson M. Paul.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who is incharge of vigilance department, told reporters on Saturday he had “no clue on the contents of the vigilance report”, adding that it was one department where neither he nor the state government could ever interfere since it was supervised by a vigilance court.

“Anyone unhappy with the vigilance probe can approach a court of law. We have done nothing (illegal) in this case,” said Chennithala.

Leader of the Opposition in Kerala assembly, V.S. Achuthanandan, on Saturday cautioned Vigilance Director Paul to see to it that he “does not spoil his clean image by dancing to the tune of those in power”.

“If the (vigilance) director plays into the hands of those in power, I will take up this case legally,” Achuthanandan said.

Meanwhile, bar owner Biju Ramesh – who created a political uproar in Kerala in October 2014 with his bribery charge – maintained that he would take the case to a logical conclusion by approaching the CBI and the courts.

Ramesh had last year claimed that hotel bar owners paid Rs.1 crore as bribe to state Finance Minister K.M. Mani to reopen closed bars.

Again in March 2015, he said Rs.10 crore were given as bribes on the alleged directions of Excise Minister K. Babu.

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