In a setback to the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala, a court here today ordered the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau to register a case against Excise Minister K Babu over corruption charges 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.
Biju Ramesh, also the Working President of Kerala Bar Owners Association, had alleged that Rs 10 crore was given to Babu for renewal of licences of liquor bars.
Babu will be the second state minister to be booked by the vigilance over the bar bribery charges after the then Finance Minister K M Mani who quit in November last following adverse remarks by the High Court against him in the matter.
Responding to the court directive, Opposition leader V S Achutanandan sought Babu’s resignation immediately. “Babu should resign without any delay”, he demanded.
In the present case, the Vigilance had sought one more month’s time to complete the QVR, which was to have been submitted today.
The court granted time to file the first report by February 22, but made it clear that a case should be registered and probe conducted. The probe will be monitored by the court.
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 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.
It was based on the charge by Ramesh that the Vigilance had filed a case against Mani, who is the supremo of UDF partner Kerala Congress (M).
( Source – PTI )