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Setback for Kerala minister K M Mani in bar scam

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Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram: In what could be a huge setback for State Finance Minister K M Mani who is at the centre of the bar scam here, the Kerala High Court on Monday upheld the Special Vigilance Court’s direction asking for a further probe.

It was on October 29 that the Thiruvananthapuram-based vigilance court quashed the clean chit given by the vigilance department that probed the bar scam to Mani and asked for a further probe by the department.

Soon after the lower court verdict, the vigilance department approached the Kerala High Court seeking a stay on the lower court’s verdict and the case, after a preliminary hearing last week, was posted for Monday.

On Monday, the vigilance department brought in former cabinet minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, a lawyer, to argue for it. But Judge Kamal Pasha took a very strong stand and made numerous remarks that left Mani and the Kerala government in a tight spot.

Among the various references that the court made on Monday was the decision that is being left to Mani, if he wants to continue as a minister since a further probe will take place.

The court also came down heavily on the vigilance director for the way he handled the case and came out in support of the lower court judge who had asked for the case diary.

The judge also mentioned the proverb that Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion, adding that if a further probe takes place while Mani is a minister, it could sow doubts in the minds of the people.

The case began last October when bar owner Biju Ramesh revealed that Mani was given one crore rupees as bribe by the Kerala bar owners to see that the 418 closed bars are reopened.

Following a letter by then 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 first 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 high court.

Meanwhile, Mani’s party and cabinet colleague Irrigation Minister P.J. Joseph said their party Kerala Congress (Mani) will deliberate on the issue.

Another party colleague of Mani, government chief whip Thomas Unniyadan, said the question of Mani resigning does not arise.

But various leaders of the Congress party including legislators like V D Sateeshan, T NPrathapan besides senior Congress party office bearers like A P Anil Kumar and others have said that Mani has to step down.

State Congress chief V M Sudheeran and state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the Congress party and the UDF would decide what needed to be done.

Mani’s estranged party colleague and six-time legislator P C George said that if Mani has any shame, he should not only resign but apologise to the people as well.

“The only crime I did was, eight months back I said what the court observed today and for that I was suspended from the party. Mani has to go,” said George.

State CPI-M secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at a hurriedly called press meet in the capital city said the game is over not just for Mani but also for Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who has been shielding the former.

Speaking to reporters, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that since most of the leaders are out of the city, a meeting has been called for Tuesday.

“I have got in touch with a few leaders and tomorrow we have decided to meet here (Thiruvananthapuram) to discuss the issue,” said Chandy.

Meanwhile, in reply to a question if Mani’s resignation has been sought, he asked: “Who has sought his resignation?”.

Angry Left supporters gathered in large numbers outside Mani’s colony and raised slogans against Mani.

Reacting to the court observations in Kochi, Mani told reporters: “At my party meeting tomorrow, we will discuss this. But I wish to add that there has been a conspiracy in this and it will come out too.”

(IANS)

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Infosys Donates Rs 2.50cr To A Hospital in Kerala

Infosys donates Rs 2.50cr to Kerala hospital

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Infosys donates Rs 2.50cr to Kerala hospital.
Infosys donates Rs 2.50cr to Kerala hospital. (Wikimedia Commons)

Tech major Infosys has donated Rs 2.50 crore to the Neurosurgery Department of the state-run Medical College hospital, here.

The money was used to install a brand new neurosurgery dedicated operating microscope, replacing a two decade old one.

Speaking to IANS, P. Anil, Head of Department Neurosurgery, said that Infosys answered to a request he had made in 2017.

“I took a chance and I wrote to Infosys if they can come to our help. It was an year back. Soon they responded and after they undertook a brief study of our activities, they decided to help us,” he added.

“In between there were some issues with regards to GST but finally the equipment has been installed. We have already put it to use in the first case, a few days back,” said Anil.

Representational image for Hospital.
Representational image. Pixabay

Anil said the new piece of device has come as a huge boon to the patients who mostly come from poor background.

The Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital has the most crowded casualty department with accident cases coming for expert and quick treatment.

Speaking to IANS, Sunil Jose, a top official attached to the Infosys unit here, said their company always has set aside money as part of the corporate social responsibility programme.

“Our studies found out that the department provides yeomen services to accident victims and most of the patients came from the low and middle income category.

“In this microscope project, we started working on it as soon as we got the proposal from the Neurosurgery Department. We felt that they are doing a good job and sanctioned it,” said Jose.

Incidentally this is not the first time that Infosys have helped the hospital. They had built a sky walk connecting the major building after finding out that patients were being moved in stretchers through the road.  IANS

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