Kochi: The quick verification report by the state’s vigilance and anti-corruption bureau (VACB) submitted in the vigilance court, Muvattupuzha, on Thursday stated that “corruption to the tune of more than Rs 100 crore was committed by former excise minister K Babu in connection with issuing bar licences in the period 2011-2016.”
The report said that the former minister accepted bribe for issuing bar licences without following the criteria of ‘first come, first grant’. It goes on to say that the former minister prepared a note based on which a fresh Abkari Policy was drafted without informing the excise commissioner and taxes department.
As per this order which came out on March 31, 2014, dry-days declared on Sundays were withdrawn and all hotels with required hygiene and licence were allowed to open beer and wine parlours. The report states that the presentation of a note will not satisfy the criteria of files coming before the consideration of the cabinet.
The FIR accuses Babu of withholding bar licence applications for months, while granting other applications on the very day of submitting the same. The FIR states that the former minister committed criminal misconduct by showing differential treatment in granting sanction of fresh bar licenses in the period 2011-2016.
The report further states that Babu ordered shutting down of Kerala state beverages corporation (KSBC) outlets superseding the list of outlets to be closed prepared by KSBC and Consumerfed as per prescribed criteria. According to the report, the list of 34 shops to be closed down on October 2, 2014 was prepared by a committee of KSBC officers but the minister made changes to it. He ordered outlets in Kanjikuzhi, Mullassery canal, Pazhayannur and Parappanagaadi to be closed down instead of those in Pathanamthitta, Kulanada and Manarkad.
The investigation report cites a yellow slip affixed along with the signature of the minister, which is a note to the additional secretary from the minister’s private secretary, R Suresh, which reads, “Discussed with the honourable minister who instructed that in place of the outlet in Chingavanam, the one in Madavur, Thiruvananthapuram, may be closed”.
The FIR charges sections 13(1) d (abusing his position as a public servant, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing) and 13(2) (punishment for criminal misconduct by public servant) of the prevention of corruption act against the former minister.
Kerala Hotels and Industrialists Association president VM Radhakrishnan, taxes department under-secretary M Mohanraj, KSBC company secretary John Joseph, KSBC internal auditor MS Sunil Kumar, KSBC consultant Mukundalal, section superintendent with Thiruvananthapuram excise commissionerate Radhakrishnan and Roy J with the taxes department at the secretariat were questioned as part of the quick verification conducted by VACB. Files maintained at the office of the excise commissioner and government secretariat regarding the applications of bar licenses were verified as part of the investigation.