Fresh probe ordered against former Kerala Minister Babu

Thiruvananthapuram:Former Kerala Minister and Congress leader A.K. Babu's woes continued as a court here on Thursday ordered a fresh vigilance case against him following a petition filed by a newly-formed hotels association. Babu suffered a humiliating defeat in the May 16 assembly polls when he lost the Tripunithura assembly constituency that had been his political bastion for close to three decades. The new development came following a petition filed by Kerala Hotel Industrialist Association chief V.M. Radhakrishnan who alleged that Babu, while he was Excise Minister, continually amended the State Excise Policy to suit a few bar hotel owners. The vigilance probe team found merit in Radhakrishnan's complaint and informed the Vigilance Court on the need for a detailed probe, which was granted. An FIR is expected to be registered against Babu. Babu told the media that he will react after going through the case. Babu has come under fire from the bar hotel owners ever since the previous Oommen Chandy government decided to give permission to only two dozen five-star hotels to operate bars, and closed down more than 700 bars in the state. Early this year, after a lower court ordered that a case be registered following allegations that he took Rs 50 lakh as bribe to open closed down bars, Babu tendered his resignation, which was not accepted by then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Later when the Kerala High Court stayed the lower court order, Babu returned as Minister but had to bite the dust when he lost the assembly election. The bar scam first surfaced in October 2014 when bar owner Biju Ramesh alleged that the state's then Finance Minister K.M. Mani was given Rs 1 crore as bribe by Kerala's bar owners to facilitate reopening of the 418 closed down bars in the state. Later, he dragged the name of Babu also as one who received the bribe.