The scam came into light in July 2017, when I-T dept conducted raids on godown, offices of a gutka manufacturer in TN.
Chennai: The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into multi-crore gutka scam wherein, Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar and some top police officers allegedly received huge sums of money as bribe for gutka sale.
The first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose passed the order on a PIL moved by J Anbazhagan of the DMK.
The gutka scam came into light in July 2017, when I-T department conducted raids on godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu during which a diary was recovered. The officials said that the diary contains names of those who have been paid off by them as quid pro quo for facilitating the sale of banned gutka.
Earlier in January, the Madras High Court had observed that the way the Tamil Nadu government opposes a simple PIL to transfer the investigation to the CBI, prompts it to go deeper into the issue.
“Why such strong resistance?. When there are different agencies and states involved, why cannot the CBI handle the case and the state provide assistance to it,” the bench had said.
The state government had informed the court that since there was progress in the investigation conducted by the DVAC into the gutka scam, there was no need to transfer the investigation to the CBI.
Advocate general Vijay Narayan, citing the vigilance manual had told the court that cases where substantially state government employees were involved, irrespective of the fact that central government employees were also co-accused, the state agency will investigate the same by informing the central agency.
So there was co-operation between state police and the CBI and they will decide whether the cases involve central government or state government employees and who has to investigate, he added.
In a shocking revelation, a top Income-Tax investigator had told the Madras High Court that a secret communication from her department to the state director general of police seeking action against highly placed persons in the government suspected to be involved in the gutka scam, was found in V.K.Sasikala’s room in the late CM Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden bungalow when another I-T raid team searched the place on November 17 last year.
The secret letter was sent on August 11, 2016 along with all the relevant evidence and sworn affidavits of the gutka firm partner, which showed that payments were made to various government officials including the health minister and the Commissioner of Police (Chennai).
This was revealed in the counter affidavit filed by Ms Susie Babu Varghese, Principal Director of Income-Tax (Investigation), in response to the PIL by DMK legislator J Anbazhagan, who sought constitution of a special investigation team headed by a retired high court judge to probe into the panmasala/gutka scam.
The I-T top sleuth in her affidavit also said MDM gutka firm partner Madhava Rao had in sworn affidavit stated he had paid Rs 56 lakh to the state health minister during the period April 1-June 15, 2016.
Commenting on the high court order, TN minister D Jayakumar said that the high court order was not a setback for the AIADMK and that Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar would only resign once the inquiry proves him guilty.
Meanwhile, DMK Working President MK Stalin welcomed the high court order and demanded immediate sacking of C Vijayabhaskar and DGP TK Rajendran.