A first information report or FIR has been filed against Mr Mani based on preliminary investigations into allegations that he accepted Rs. 1 crore as part of a deal to renew the licenses of 418 “sub-standard” bars that were closed in the state last year.
Last month, Biju Ramesh, chief of the Kerala Hotels and Bar Association, alleged on a TV show aired on a regional channel that he was asked for a bribe of Rs. 5 crore in return for renewal of licenses of the bars. Mr Ramesh further alleged that he paid part of the sum – Rs. 1 crore – to Mr Mani.
The Chief Minister had rejected the allegations as “politically motivated and far from the reality”. Mr Mani belongs to the Kerala Congress (M) which is a key ally in the Chandy government.
The controversy has dominated proceedings in the ongoing winter session of the state assembly with the Opposition demanding Mr Mani’s resignation. It has also accused the Chief Minister of shielding the accused in the case.
Last week, Deputy Leader of Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had even tried to table a CD in the assembly allegedly carrying visual evidence of financial transaction between Mr Mani and others. The Deputy Speaker didn’t allow it since the CD had not been presented for verification before being tabled, as mandated by the rules of the House.
Mr Balakrishnan had alleged that “the driver of the car bearing registration number KL01B 7878 had delivered Rs. 15 lakh in cash at Mani’s official residence here. He was followed by two others who handed over Rs. 35 lakh”.
Mr Mani has denied all allegations against him.