THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The alleged double standards of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on bribe charges against former finance minister K. M. Mani and excise minister K. Babu is quite evident.
In the quick verification report against Mr Mani, the VACB maintained that the allegations prima facie disclosed offences under Prevention of Corruption Act.
A detailed investigation was recommended citing the Lalitha Kumari case even without inquiring into the veracity of the claims. Subsequently, the VACB registered a case against Mr Mani for a detailed probe.
In the preliminary inquiry against Mr Babu, the VACB report lists ten reasons, including the veracity of the complainant (hotelier Biju Ramesh) and other witnesses.
It even took statements of many Bar Hotels Association leaders before coming to the conclusion that prima facie there was no evidence to initiate further legal action.
It contradicts with the Supreme Court directive in the Lalitha Kumari case that the scope of preliminary inquiry was not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information revealed any cognizable offence.
"In the case of Mr Mani, the VACB decided to register a case on the basis that the allegations prima facie disclose offences under Prevention of Corruption Act whereas. In the case of Babu, the vigilance did not take that view. It instead went beyond the scope of the preliminary enquiry prescribed by the apex court and cited credentials of the complainant and witnesses as reasons for not registering a case and conducting an in-depth probe. This clearly exposes the double standards of the VACB," a senior lawyer pointed out.
Lawyer and Aam Aadmi Party leader Ajit Joy said the double standards was very evident from the VACB's quick verification report into allegations against Mr Mani and the one against Mr Babu.
The quick verification against Mr Mani was conducted by VACB southern-range DySP S. Sureshkumar and the preliminary investigation against Mr Babu was done by VACB Ernakulam unit DySP M. N. Ramesh. VACB director Vinson M. Paul had earlier clarified to DC that the objective of quick verification and preliminary inquiry were the same.
However, sources in the VACB justify the double standard citing lack of statements in favour of Mr Mani during the quick verification as well as SC judgments cautioning against registering corruption cases.
"During the quick verification against Mani, no one gave statements against the allegations that Mani took bribe, whereas during the preliminary inquiry against Babu many bar owners gave statements denying the allegation that bar owners accepted bribe. The Vigilance conducted a preliminary probe into the allegations before registering case as there were SC directives that utmost caution must be maintained while registering corruption cases against anyone. Moreover, the Lalithakumari case was not specifically pertaining to corruption case," said a senior police official.
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