Thursday, January 28, 2016

HC stays FIR against K Babu

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court Thursday stayed the Thrissur vigilance court’s order directing to register an FIR against former minister K Babu, who resigned after a lower court ordered a case against him for allegedly accepting Rs 50 lakh bribe to permit bars to continue to function.

On Babu's petition, the high court bench of Justice T Ubaid not only suspended the Thrissur vigilance court order for two months but also pointed out that the lower court appeared to be in a hurry, as the case was also being heard in the high court.

The high court, however, directed the vigilance probe team to go ahead with its quick verification.

Babu's resignation came on January 23, soon after the vigilance court ordered a case to be registered against him after the vigilance department asked for a month's time to submit a verification report. Bar owner Biju Ramesh had earlier filed a complaint that he gave Babu Rs 50 lakh as a bribe to permit bars to continue to function.

Reacting to the high court order on Thursday, Babu broke down and thanked god.

"God is great. Today has been a day of major developments, not just for me. Anyway, my decision to resign has not changed, now I will have to discuss with my senior leaders," said Babu, wiping tears from his eyes.

Babu's resignation is, however, yet to be handed over by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to Governor P Sathasivam.

"The case against Babu has been stayed," a beaming Chandy told reporters at Malappuram, when asked why he was delaying forwarding Babu's resignation letter to the governor.

Babu had earlier claimed this was the result of a conspiracy hatched by the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist and Biju Ramesh, who owns nine bars in the state capital.

The bar scam surfaced in October 2014 when Biju Ramesh alleged that the state's then finance minister K M Mani was given Rs 1 crore as bribe by Kerala's bar owners to facilitate reopening of the 418 closed bars in the state.

The relief for Babu comes at a time when the same vigilance court on Thursday asked for a first information report to be registered against Chandy and Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed following a disclosure by Saritha Nair, one of the main accused in the solar panel scam, that she paid Rs.1.9 crore in two instalments to Chandy and Rs.40 lakh to Mohammed.

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