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Vigilance court adjourns case against Mani to March 5

Vigilance court adjourns case against Mani to March 5

Thiruvananthapuram: The Special Vigilance Court here today posted to March 5 further hearing of the bar bribery case against former Finance Minister K M Mani, in which the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VAB) had given him a clean chit.

Adjournment of the case to next month assumes significance as Mani, the Kerala Congress (M) supremo, was expected to return to the cabinet if the court had accepted the closure report by VAB.

As the assembly polls are due in April-May, the possibility of Mani returning to the cabinet seems remote.

While considering the case today, judge John K Illikkadan observed that the court would pass the final order after hearing the arguments of respondents including state opposition leader V S Achuthanandan who had opposed the vigilance's decision to give clean chit to Mani.

However, the Vigilance argued in the court that there was no need to hear the pleas of the respondents.

In its second report submitted on January 13, it had stated that there was no evidence to establish that Mani had demanded or accepted bribe from bar owners.

The second report was submitted following a directive of the Special Court that rejected the Vigilance's first report exonerating Mani in the case in October last.

82-year-old Mani resigned as Finance Minister in November last after an adverse remark by the High Court in a related case.

An FIR had been filed against Mani in the court after a quick verification by the Vigilance Bureau on the allegations made by Kerala State Bar Hotel Owners Association working President Biju Ramesh.

Triggering a controversy, Ramesh had in October 2014 alleged that Mani demanded Rs five crore as bribe from the Association and accepted Rs one crore as bribe for renewal of licences of more than 400 liquor bars.

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