Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Thursday came out in support of state Finance Minister K M Mani, against whom a special court ordered further probe in the bar bribery case, and ruled out the latter's resignation, saying it was "not necessary".
"Resignation of Mani is not at all necessary. The verdict for a further probe is a natural legal process. Nothing unusual in it. Final verdict of the court is the one that is important," Chandy told reporters at a meet-the-press here.
"Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau held a probe and filed a final report for the closure of the case. But, the court now orders for a further investigation. Vigilance will carry out that," Chandy said.
In this regard, Chandy recalled the stand taken by him when a Vigilance Court had rejected the government's petition for closure of the Palmolein import case against him in 2011.
"This happened just few months after this government came to power in August 2011. At that time, no one asked me to resign and I did not resign. But, I quit the charge of Vigilance Department," Chandy said.
"The same Vigilance Court had cleared me later in the case. What would have happened if I resigned in 2011, when the Court rejected state's petition to close the case," he said, adding the final verdict of the court was more important.
Defending Mani, he said, "There is no direct involvement of the Finance Minister in the case."
The Special Vigilance Court here today directed further probe in the case, rejecting the Bureau's final report which gave a clean chit to Mani and sought closure of the case.
Ever since the alleged scam broke out, ruling Congress-led UDF and Chandy, in particular, had maintained that the allegations against Mani were politically motivated.
The bar bribery allegations came out as an offshot of the UDF government's new liquor policy in 2014 which envisaged total prohibition in the state in the next ten years.
As part of the policy, five star hotels were only permitted to serve foreign liquor in the state. More than 700 foreign liquor bars, below the five star category, were closed down in August 2014 as per the new policy.
In October last year, Kerala Bar Hotel Owners's Association working president Biju Rameh came out with an allegation that Mani had demanded Rs five crore as bribe for the renewal of licenses. He had also alleged that the Finance Minister had accepted Rs one crore in this regard.