Thiruvananthapuram vigilance special court orders re-probe into bar bribery
Thiruvananthapuram: The tumultuous journey of the bar bribery scandal with its wild swings in perspectives has taken yet another vicious swerve. The Thiruvananthapuram Vigilance Special Court on Saturday ordered a re-investigation into the scandal on the basis of an affidavit filed by former investigating officer R. Sukesan. The vigilance SP, in his affidavit, stated that former Vigilance director Shankar Reddy had tampered with his ‘factual report’ to protect Mani. '
Sukesan also stated that the probe was incomplete as most of the bar owners were not interrogated though notices had been sent. Vigilance director Jacob Thomas said that Sukesan would be kept out of the probe team. "In fact Sukesan himself had asked to be relived from the case,” he said. DySP Najmal Hassan will head the team. The re-investigation order has come at a time when the Vigilance court was yet to give its order on a petition filed by V S Achuthanandan for a re-investigation into the case.
The prosecution stand was that a re-investigation could be ordered if there was new evidence. Bar owners were yet to submit any new evidence. The ‘final report’ submitted by Sukeshan on January 12 this year, as the head of the Vigilance Special Investigation Unit, was a repudiation of the ‘factual report’ filed by Sukesan himself. It stated that there was no conclusive evidence to show that Mani had either accepted or sought bribe from bar owners.
The ‘final report’ also negated the circumstantial evidences that Sukesan had detailed in his ‘factual report’. Sukesan, who was mocked for his change of stand, had later said that he had even considered suicide. The ‘factual report’ said bar owners handed over the money to Mani at his Pala residence on March 22, 2014, and at his official residence in the capital a fortnight later on April 2, 2014.
However, the final report, which now Sukesan says was doctored by Mr Reddy, disputed this contention stating that mobile phone location and call records of the accused demonstrate that the charge was improbable. Shankar Reddy’s predecessor Vinson M Paul, too, had tweaked the report filed by Sukesan. Mr Paul had stated that Sukesan’s findings will not pass legal scrutiny. He even secured legal advice to rebut Sukesan's findings. The Vigilance court had then passed a stricture against Mr Paul for passing Sukesan his suggestions in a sealed cover on which was marked ‘for strict compliance’. Consequently, Mr Paul went on leave, and was later appointed as chief information commissioner.