Court puts top cops under probe in Kerala bar scam case
The infamous bar scam case of 2014 saw yet another twist to the tale on Friday, with a local court here ordering a preliminary probe into the role played by two Vigilance Department officials, who were part of the scam investigation.
Based on a petition filed by a social worker P. Nawaz, who saw a concerted move to thwart a free and fair probe into the scam, the Thiruvananthapuram Special Court ordered the Vigilance Director to submit a preliminary report within 45 days.
According to the petitioner, the two officials -- the then Director of Vigilance & DGP A.N. Shankar Reddy and SP & the Investigating Officer in the case R. Sukeshan -- wrongfully gave clean chit to the then Finance Minister K.M. Mani in the case.
Reacting to the court's directive, Reddy maintained that he had done nothing wrong and that he only ensured a fair probe as the head of Vigilance.
"The fact that my track record in the past three decades of handling various cases has even been lauded by the courts stands testimony to my actions, and I have done nothing wrong," Reddy told reporters here.
Reddy was shifted as the Director of Vigilance soon after the CPI(M)-led government assumed office in May this year.
Incidentally, this is the fourth time that a probe has been ordered into the bar scam case.
The case began in October 2014, when Biju Ramesh, a businessman owning a series of bars in the state capital, alleged that Mani had taken Rs 1 crore as bribe from Kerala's bar owners for allowing 418 closed bars in the state to reopen.
Following a massive protest by the CPI(M)-led Left opposition, Mani had to quit as minister last year, though he won a record 13th time from Pala assembly constituency in the May elections.
Former CPI-M Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who has been demanding Reddy's suspension from service, hailed the court order.
"Perhaps, this is the first time that a Vigilance chief is trying to thwart a vigilance probe," Achuthanandan said.