Kerala minister quits over bar bribery scam

Kerala minister quits over bar bribery scam

The bar bribery scandal knocked the second minister out of Kerala’s Congress-led government with Excise Minister K Babu resigning on Saturday, hours after a court ordered the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) to register a case against him.

Speaking to reporters in Kochi, Babu said he communicated his decision to step down to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Babu is accused of taking Rs 50 lakh as bribe from bar owner Biju Ramesh in return for favo­urable decisions in renewal of bar licences.

Babu, however, maintained that he was the victim of a conspiracy hatched by Biju along with the opposition CPM.  “On December 15, my ouster was plotted at CPM MLA V Sivankutty’s home in Thiruvananthapuram in the presence of CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan,” Babu said.

The Congress leader’s decision came in the wake of scathing remarks made by a vigilance court in Thrissur on the sluggish pace of Quick Verification against Babu.

The court expressed concerns on the QV’s effectiveness and directed VACB to register an FIR against Babu and Biju. The probe will be monitored by the court and VACB has been directed to submit a progress report on the probe by February 22.
Babu denied the allegations and said he was stepping down solely on “moral grounds”.

“Till now, I have not been named accused in the case. The man who has made the allegations had not named me while VACB recorded his statements. He did not make this allegation when his statement was recorded under section 164 (of the CrPC) in front of a magistrate,” he said.

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