Madras High Court Orders CBI Probe Into Multi-Crore Gutka Scam

| April 26 , 2018 , 13:05 IST

The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged multi-crore gutka scam in which state health minister C Vijaya Baskar and Director General of Police TK Rajendran are also implicated.

The bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose gave the order based on a PIL filed by DMK leader J Anbazhagan.

During income tax department raids at the godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu on July 8, 2017, in connection with tax evasion charges of Rs 250 crore, a diary was seized which detailed names of officials paid off by the gutka manufactures.

ALSO READ: After Liquor, Nitish Govt Bans Gutka, Pan Masala

The names mentioned as having been 'paid off' by the gutka company included the state's health minister. In November 2017, A further letter from the gutka company was recovered from the room of AIADMK leader V K Sasikala in late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's house in Poes Garden.

"During a search conducted by the department on November 17, 2017 in the rooms occupied by Sasikala in Veda Nilayam, a note dated September 2, 2016 signed by the then DGP addressed to the then chief minister enclosing copies of secret letter dated August 11, 2016, addressed by then principal director of income tax department to the DGP in connection with the gutka scam was found and seized," the department had said.

P Wilson, senior counsel for the petitioner, said, “Even the FIR was registered only after the issue was highlighted in the state assembly by the opposition. When such was the situation, how can we accept that the DVAC would conduct a fair probe? Moreover, finding holes in the probe conducted by the DVAC is not the issue at all. Inflicting confidence in the people’s mind that a fair and transparent probe would be conducted is the need of the hour.”

The Tamil Nadu state government had banned the manufacture, storage and sale of carcinogenic chewable forms of tobacco, including gutka and pan masala in 2013.