Kerala’s anti-corruption watchdog on Saturday conducted raids at the residences of former state Excise Minister K Babu and his two daughters in connection with a disproportionate assets case against the Congress leader. Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau sleuths also swooped down simultaneously on the Ernakulam residences of two of the Congress leader’s alleged ‘benamis’ – Baburam and Mohanan- who have no known source for running any business.
Searches were conducted at Babu’s residence in Thrippunithura and his daughters’ residences in Palarivattam in Ernakulam district and Thodupuzha in Idukki district, officials said. The raids were conducted after registering an FIR based on a complaint of corruption against Babu by an anti-corruption organisation in Thrippunithura. According to an FIR filed before the Court of Enquiry Commissioner and Special Judge, Muvattupuzha, VACB Special Cell submitted that Babu, “who hails from a poor family, abused his power as the Minister to accumulate wealth.”
“He had illegal connections with real estate mafia, business groups and ‘benamis’ in Ernakulam district and outside Kerala,” it alleged. During the inquiry, it was revealed that Babu had purchased 120 acres of land at Theni in Tamil Nadu by spending several lakh of rupees, it said. Babu, a senior Congress leader, however, rejected the allegations and challenged the probe agency to prove the charges against him. “It is an act of vengeance,” he said in Thrippunithura. “I have no benami business. Allegations against me are wrong. If I have any ill-gotten assets, that will be freely given to the government,” Babu said.
Reacting to a query on the raid, VACB Chief Jacob Thomas said “uprooting corruption is the policy of the government” and sought support of media in the mission. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Vigilance Department was free to take action in such cases. “There is no need for any nod from the Chief Minister to conduct searches at Babu’s residence,” the Chief Minister told reporters in New Delhi. Babu, who had a controversial stint as Excise Minister in the previous Oommen Chandy-led UDF government, had resigned after a Thrissur vigilance court ordered the Vigilance Department to register an FIR against him in the bar bribery scam. He was later reinstated in the post.