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Bar bribery case: Chennithala says he was under pressure

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Bar bribery case: Chennithala says he was under pressure
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Thiruvananthapuram: Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala Monday said he was under the pressure over the bar bribery case.

Replying to an adjournment motion moved by the Opposition, Chennithala said, “I was under the pressure over the bar bribery issue. But I didn’t bow down to any pressure.”

"Everything is going in the way as it should despite a lot of pressure. This case is a rare instance where a probe was initiated against a sitting minister and right from the start, the probe went as per the law,” he said.

"During the previous Left rule (2006-11) around 25 cases that were probed and where the probe official found evidences, those cases were not taken forward by the higher official or the state government," Chennithala said.

Soon after the home minister’s comment, the Opposition took up the issue and asked him to reveal who did pressurise him over the issue.

As the Kerala Assembly session resumed this morning, the Opposition LDF re-launched its attack against the UDF government over the bar bribery case.

Seeking leave of the house for the adjournment motion, senior CPI-M leader S.Sarma said since its launch the bar scam case probe was manipulated, using the powers of the government.

"Even though the case is being conducted under the director of the vigilance department, Vinson M. Paul, the brain behind the probe is of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and hence the rule of law is being violated," said Sarma.

Sarma said it was astonishing to see that the vigilance director sought legal advice from former additional solicitor general L. Nageswara Rao, who was counsel for the Classifieds Hotels Association in the apex court against the liquor policy of the state government.

Speaker N. Sakthan said that the Vigilance Director had not submitted a report in the Assembly and that the Opposition had tabled notice for the adjournment motion merely on the basis of media reports.

In reply to it, CPI (M) State secretary and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that it is the government and not the Speaker who is supposed to answer their question.

After the Speaker rejected the adjournment motion, the Opposition staged a walkout in the Assembly.

The Kerala finance minister is facing the heat after a whistle-blower bar owner Biju Ramesh in October claimed that Mani was given Rs.1 crore to open the bars that would be closed down under the state government's revised liquor policy. After this allegation, the state government ordered a vigilance department probe.

On Saturday, reports surfaced that the vigilance department has decided to give a clean chit to Mani after the probe failed to find proper evidences to match the allegation.

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