Probe against Kerala vigilance officer

Probe against Kerala vigilance officer
A senior official of VACB who submitted a report which put former finance minister K M Mani in the dock over bar bribery charges was in the line of fire on Friday after a Crime Branch investigation was ordered into his role in a “conspiracy” against the former minister.

A probe has been ordered against the Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) Special Investigation Unit SP R Sukesan and bar owner Biju Ramesh for reportedly conspiring against Mani.

The action is based on a recommendation by the VACB Director N Sankar Reddy. Sukesan had initially submitted a fact-finding report which said there was evidence to prosecute Mani. The VACB, however, bypassed the report later and in its final report extended a clean chit to Mani. The VACB recommendation against Sukesan is based on excerpts from audio evidence submitted by Biju as evidence to back his charges of corruption against Mani. Biju is learnt to have stated in the audio files that Sukesan was helpful in pressing the charges.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the investigation was based on “evidence” found in the audio files. Interestingly, the VACB had earlier questioned authenticity of the files when it maintained that there was no evidence against the former minister. The direction for the probe also comes close on the heels of Biju’s charges that Chennithala, during his tenure as the state Congress chief, accepted Rs 2 crore from bar owners.

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