Kochi, Sep 1: In fresh trouble for Kerala Congress (M) chief K M Mani, the vigilance wing today filed an FIR in a court charging him with giving tax exemptions to poultry farmers and an ayurvedic medicine manufacturer abusing his position as the then finance minister in the previous UDF government.
Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) submitted the FIR in the Vigilance Court in Muvattupuzha following a quick verification undertaken by it on a petition filed by an advocate. The filing of the FIR comes close on the heels of a Vigilance Court in Thiruvananthapuram on August 27 ordering further probe against Mani in a bar bribery scam case on a petition by the investigating officer.
In its report filed before the Muvattupuzha court, the probe agency said the quick verification 'revealed' Mani had abused his official position as a public servant in allegedly favouring one Thomson group in the matter of demand of penalty for tax evasion.
The VACB FIR also charged Mani with abusing his official position and without any authority ordered a stay on proceedings to recover Rs 65 crores from poultry dealers favouring them by hatching a criminal conspiracy.
The FIR said the quick verification had revealed that Mani as the finance minister gave retrospective effect to the reduction of tax on ayurvedic cosmetic products from 12.5 per cent to 4 per cent. "It is revealed that the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes as well as subject committee (Finance Matters) rejected the request of ayurvedic product manufacturers to give retrospective effect to tax reduction for cosmetic products. In spite of these objections, the (then) finance minister had considered their plea and gave retrospective effect to tax reduction as per Finance Bill, 2014," it said.
The VACB said it was prima facie revealed that Mani had taken "undue interest" in granting retrospective effect to tax reduction in favour of ayurvedic cosmetic manufacturers. The allegation of corruption involved in this deal needs detailed investigation by registering the FIR, it said.
In his petition, advocate Nobel Mathew alleged that Mani gave illegal tax concessions to poultry traders and ayurveda medicine manufacturers during his stint as the state finance minister.