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HC quash graft case against K M Mani, ticks off Vigilance

HC quash graft case against K M Mani, ticks off Vigilance

Kochi: The High Court Thursday quashed a corruption case against the state's former Finance Minister K M Mani and an industrialist while ticking off the vigilance bureau for sniffing corruption in law enacted by the assembly.

Justice P Ubaid quashed the case, involving an alleged tax relaxation given to the industrialist, after the state's Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau (VACB) conceded that it has no authority to probe into the allegations of the alleged tax relaxation as it fell under the ambit of the Finance Act.

The case was filed by VACB against Benny Abraham, the owner of a Lead Oxide manufacturing company in Kottayam, in connection with the tax relaxation extended to his firm during KM Mani's stint as finance minister in previous Congress-led UDF government.

The case was registered last year on a complaint by social activist George C Kappen, who had alleged that the state incurred losses to the tune of Rs 1.66 crore, due to the tax relaxation.

Later VACB conceded its lack of jurisdiction to probe into the case during hearing by the high court the industrialist Abraham's plea against the VACB jurisdiction to file the case and probe it.

While hearing the former minister's plea, the high court earlier had ticked off VACB terming its action as "anarchic."

In an interim order on March 29, the bench had said, "Here is a very strange situation of anarchic actions of excess on the part of the VACB in Kerala.

"The petitioner herein happened to avail the benefit of a budget proposal made by the government in power and the said proposal has now become the part of the Finance Act passed by the Kerala Legislative Assembly.

"The VACB is now probing the corruption elements into the said legislative act! If the VACB goes to that extent, something will have to be done by the high court," justice Ubaid had said.

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