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Kerala minister Mani resigns after High Court orders further probe into bar scam

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Photo: www.ibnlive.com

Thiruvananthapuram: In a day of hectic political parleys all day long in the Kerala capital following a Kerala High Court order to further probe the bar scam in the state, finance minister and the country’s longest serving legislator K.M. Mani on Tuesday resigned over his alleged involvement in the matter.

Addressing reporters at his official residence, the 82-year-old Mani said that being the state’s law minister, “I have to respect the law and hence I have resigned”.

“I have already informed the chief minister (Oommen Chandy) of my decision to resign. Through a special messenger, I will send my resignation to the CM,” he said.

“I take this opportunity to thank the CM and all other leaders who extended support to me.”

“We also wish to state that we will continue to support the United Democratic Front government,” said Mani.

The case began in October 2014 when bar owner Biju Ramesh alleged that Mani was given Rs.1 crore as bribe by Kerala’s bar owners to see that the 418 closed bars in the state are reopened.

Following a letter by Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan to the vigilance director, the Kerala government ordered a vigilance probe against Mani.

Following a quick verification, a case was registered naming Mani as the accused.

After seven months of investigation, the vigilance department found there was not enough evidence against Mani and they had filed a closure report in the vigilance court that last month quashed the clean chit. It ordered a further probe, which was upheld on Monday by the Kerala High Court.

Speaking to reporters after accepting the resignations of both Mani and his party colleague and government chief whip Thomas Unniyadan, Chief Minister Chandy told reporters that right from the time the case surfaced in October 2014, the UDF was certain that Mani has done no wrong.

“But now with a reference made by the court, the decision to resign was taken by Mani himself and it was meant to uphold the democratic principles.

“Even now, we feel Mani has done no wrong. Contrary to news reports there has been no pressure from my side or from any of the UDF allies and reports that the Congress high command intervened is also baseless,” Chandy said.

The chief minister added that he was certain that Mani will come out unscathed.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Chandy said there was no threat to his government.

“There is no threat to my government at all. We started four and a half years back with a majority of just two and see we have come till now… in the remaining period also, we will sail smoothly and united,” he said.

Mani’s resignation comes after the Kerala High Court on Monday upheld the Special Vigilance Court’s direction, asking for further probe in the bar scam case in which money is alleged to have taken bribes.

Mani has not lost a single assembly election since he first became a legislator in 1967 from Pala in Kottayam district. He has been a minister in various cabinets for more than two decades.

On Tuesday morning, the Kerala Congress supremo’s official residence in the state capital was buzz with activity.

After a five-hour meeting of the steering committee of Kerala Congress (Mani), the third biggest ally of the ruling Congress-led UDF, took place on Tuesday, Mani reportedly tried to put pressure on the Chandy government, knowing very well that if he along with his seven legislators put their feet down, the government will collapse.

But things did not work the way Mani wished, as his party’s working chairman and cabinet colleague, Irrigation Minister P.J. Joseph, and two other legislators informed Chandy late on Tuesday evening that they will not resign with Mani.

Finding no support from the other allies or from the Congress, Mani asked government chief whip Thomas Unniyadan, a three-time legislator, also to put in his papers.

“Yes, we both are going to resign and the decision will be informed to the UDF. I do not know if Joseph is going to resign, but I am resigning to give my support to Mani. But we will continue to be in the UDF,” Unniyadan told the media, before Mani made his announcement.

Joseph later said Mani has already clarified that their party was “united”.

“Mani will decide if there is going to be a new minister. All such decisions will be made by him,” said Joseph.

(IANS)

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Ex-Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif Indicted on Corruption Charges

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Muhammad Safdar
Muhammad Safdar, husband of Maryam Nawaz, daughter of ousted Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, waves from a a vehicle as he arrives at an accountability court in Islamabad. VOA

Islamabad, October 19: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been indicted on corruption charges stemming from information taken from the so-called “Panama Papers.”

The country’s anti-corruption court indicted the 67-year-old Sharif during a hearing Thursday in Islamabad. His daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammed Safdar were also indicted. Maryam Sharif and Mohammed Safdar appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A lawyer for the elder Sharif, who is in London with his wife as she undergoes cancer treatment, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Maryam Sharif angrily dismissed the allegations as “baseless.”

Sharif was disqualified by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and removed from office in July after leaked documents last year from a Panama-based law firm revealed the family held a number of unreported overseas assets.(VOA)

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Journalist Behind the Panama Papers Killed in a Car Bomb

Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a "one-woman WikiLeaks".

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Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device. (Representative image) Pixabay

Valletta, October 17, 2017 : A journalist who led the Panama Papers probe into corruption in Malta was killed on Monday in a car bomb near her residence, the media reported.

Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device, reports the Guardian.

A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”.

Her latest revelations accused Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack, the Guardian reported.

Malta’s President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, called for calm. “In these moments, when the country is shocked by such a vicious attack, I call on everyone to measure their words, to not pass judgement and to show solidarity.”

ALSO READ Not Just Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, these 9 People too Bore the Brunt of Speaking Truth to Fight Corruption

In a statement, Muscat condemned the “barbaric attack”.

“Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine,” said Muscat, adding “Both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”

He announced in parliament later on Monday that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers were on their way to Malta to assist with the investigation, following his request for help from the US government.

According to local media reports, Caruana Galizia filed a police report 15 days ago to say that she had been receiving death threats.

The journalist posted her final blog on her Running Commentary website at 2.35 p.m. on Monday, and the explosion, which occurred near her home, was reported to police just after 3 p.m.

Over the last two years, her reporting had largely focused on revelations from the Panama Papers, a cache of 11.5 million documents leaked from the internal database of the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. (IANS)

 

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Amit Shah Rejects Allegation of Money Laundering on Son Jay Shah

"Where has money laundering been done? All the transactions happened through cheques and banks," claimed Amit Shah at an event.

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Amit Shah, BJP National President. Wikimedia

Ahmedabad, October 13, 2017 : Breaking his silence, BJP president Amit Shah rejected allegations of money laundering against his son Jay Shah whose company had reportedly recorded an extraordinary spike in business after the BJP came to power at the Centre, and asserted that it had not done any business with the government nor taken any kickbacks.

He also said that unlike the Congress, which had faced many corruption charges in the past, his son has shown courage to file a civil and criminal defamation suit on the allegations levelled against him and “invited a probe against himself” by this step.

“There is no money laundering involved in Jay’s company. This company is completely in commodity business, where turnover is more while the profit is less. We have exported bajra, corn and rice while coriander was imported. And after doing a turnover of Rs 80 crore, they don’t tell how much they made profit,” Amit Shah said at an “India Today” event “Gujarat Panchayat”.

Answering questions, he said that after making a turnover of Rs 80 crore, Jay made a loss of Rs 1.5 crore. “Where has money laundering been done? All the transactions happened through cheques and banks,” he said.

Asked about Jay Shah filing a defamation suit against the publication, Shah said: “Before answering your question I would like to ask you one thing. After Independence, how many corruption charges have been made against the Congress?

“Please understand this is not corruption. Many allegations of corruption were made against the Congress. Did it ever file a civil suit or defamation suit? No. Why they lacked such courage? Today Jay has filed a defamation as well as civil suit and is demanding a probe himself. Those who have the evidence can submit it to the court, and then the court will decide,” the BJP president said.

He said: “We have ourselves invited a probe and on the company issue I want to clarify that it has not done business with the government of even Re 1 nor taken any government land or tender. Neither has it received kickbacks as in the case of Bofors.”

When asked about Jay’s company securing unsecured loans, Shah said it was not unsecured loans. “It was a line of credit,” he added. (IANS)