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Bar bribe: Hotel owners on tactical retreat;10 bars to renew licences after HC directive

10 out of 418 closed bars got orders from the Kerala High Court to renew their liquor licence.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: November 7, 2014 7:22:07 pm

The Kerala government on Friday asked the bar hotel owners to reveal the details of the bribe they had claimed to have paid to the ministers, but the bar owners took a tactical retreat a day after they blackmailed the government to get their licences renewed.

Even as the government went on a defensive in the bar issue following corruption charges, 10 out of 418 closed bars got orders from the high court to renew their liquor licence.

The bar hotel owners had embarrassed the government on Thursday by claiming that they have evidence to topple the government, which, according to them, had accepted Rs 20 crore as bribe in last three years. Owners’ association leader Biju Ramesh had urged the members to press for settlement deals and get the government succumb to their demand for renewing licence.

Reacting to the allegation, Excise Minister K Babu said all political parties have taken money from bar owners during elections.

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They would not be allowed to create a smokescreen to fight against the government. Let the bar owners reveal the names of leaders who have taken the money. We have nothing to hide, said Babu.

The bar owners had threatened the government that they would reveal the details of bribe paid to various ministers. But, Biju Ramesh, who had earlier alleged bribery charges against minister K M Mani, did not give any evidence to that effect before the police team.

Ramesh said evidence would be collected by the bar association and would be submitted later. He said Mani was paid Rs 1 crore before the bar issue came up. It may be noted that in the meeting of bar owners, Ramesh had told the members that by hitting Minister Mani with corruption charges, half of their job was over.

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After Ramesh softened his stand before the police, who are investigating the bribery charges, his colleague and another bar owner Manoharan also came down from the earlier allegation that he had given Rs 2 lakh to a bar hotel owner in Kottayam which, according to him, was meant for bribe. Manoharan told the media that he joined the issue without knowing further details.

Meanwhile, Kerala high court asked the government to issue liquor licence to 10 out of 418 bar hotels which have been remaining closed since April. The court said many of them have three and four star facilities. Denial of liquor licence to them would be discriminatory. Hence, bar licences should be renewed.

Although Excise Minister K Babu said the government has fought the case vigorously, more bar owners are likely to move the high court to get the relief in the wake of today’s order.

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First published on: 07-11-2014 at 07:13:57 pm
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