Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Poultry bribe: Mani obtained financial gains, says HC

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court Tuesday rejected Kerala Congress (M) chairman and former finance minister K M Mani’s plea seeking cancellation of the case registered by vigilance for exempting a fine of Rs 64 crore imposed by the sales tax department on Thomson Group, a wholesale poultry supplying company in Thrissur.

The court clarified that they cannot interfere in the vigilance probe, and observed that Mani must have achieved financial gains through it. Justice B Kemal Pasha directed the vigilance to probe the case properly. The court also rejected Thomson Group’s plea along with Mani. His act staying the fine imposed is violation of rules. When only the chief minister has the right to stay the fine in cases above 5 lakh, he bypassed that and following his order a fine of Rs 64 crore was stayed.  From this, it should be noted that he obtained financial gains through it. Meantime, the government informed the court that Mani intervened in the case without permission.

The FIR was registered against Mani on the complaint lodged by advocate Noble Mathew, BJP state panel member and former leader of Kerala Congress. The special investigating team of the sales tax found that Thomson Group had evaded tax and ordered them to pay a fine of Rs 64 crore. Though they approached the Supreme Court against it, they failed in it. Later Mani entrusted deputy commissioner to exempt them from paying the fine. The company was opted out of the fine on appeal. Noble’s complaint is that Mani accepted Rs 50 lakh for it.

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