Gutkha scam: CBI conducts simultaneous raids in more than 30 locations in Tamil Nadu

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CHENNAI – The CBI on Wednesday launched simultaneous searches in the residences of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar, Director General of Police T.K. Rajendran, former Minister B.V. Ramana and others in connection with the gutkha scam.

Searches were also on in the residence of the former Chennai Police Commissioner, S. George.

Special teams, comprising officials of the CBI’s Anti Corruption-III Unit from New Delhi, commenced the searches early morning. This is the first time the CBI is conducting searches in the residence of a DGP in the State.

Stalin welcomes raids

Welcoming the Gutkha scam raids at around 40 places, DMK president M.K. Stalin said “The raids at the houses of Tamil Nadu Minister of Health and Family Planning C. Vijayabaskar, former Chennai Commissioner George, Tamil Nadu DGP T.K. Rajendran have brought shame to the state of Tamil Nadu.”

Raids in 30 other places in Tamil Nadu

“We are conducting raids on the residences of the Tamil Nadu DGP, State Health Minister and 30 others places in Tamil Nadu in connection with the case relating to the gutkha scam,” a CBI spokesperson told The Hindu.

Sources in the CBI said the residences of present and former police officials who were considered close to Mr. Rajendran and Mr. George were being searched.

Searches were also on against an IRS (Customs) officer and certain officials of the Food Safety and Sales Tax departments in Chennai, the sources said.

The raids come days after the CBI interrogated manufacturer of MDM brand of gutkha Madhava Rao. Investigators also examined the persons who allegedly handed over the bribe money to top officials, and recorded their statements.

₹39.91 crore scam

The gutkha scam, exposed by The Hindu in June 2017, pertains to the alleged involvement of Mr. Baskar, Mr. Rajendran, Mr. George and a few other IPS officers among others, in taking bribes to the tune of ₹39.91 crore for facilitating the storage, transportation and sale of the banned commodity in Chennai city.

 

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), registered a case in September 2017, but could not file a charge sheet within the stipulated six months. On a petition filed by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLA J. Anbalagan, the Madras High Court transferred the case to the CBI. When challenged, the Madras High Court order was upheld by the Supreme Court.

In May last, the CBI’s Anti-Corruption (III) Unit, New Delhi, registered an FIR against unknown officials of the Central Excise Department, the Government of Tamil Nadu, the Food Safety Department, public servants and private persons under sections 120-B (Criminal Conspiracy) of the IPC and also invoked provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

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