The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday raided nearly 40 locations in Chennai, including the premises of several top ministers, police officers and revenue officials, in connection with the 2017 gutkha scam. The homes of Tamil Nadu DGP TK Rajendran, ex-DGP S George, Health Minister C Vijayabaskar were also searched.
Under the order of Madras High Court, CBI launched a search operation where top ministers, police officers and revenue officials are alleged to have taken bribes to allow manufacture and sale of banned gutkha in the state.
Background of Gutkha Scam –
The manufacture, storage and sale of the chewable forms of tobacco, including gutkha and pan masala were banned by the Tamil Nadu government in 2013.
In 2016, when the Income Tax investigators raided the offices, godown and residences of Tamil Nadu-based tobacco businessmen over the evasion of taxes worth Rs. 250 crore, the case emerged as a cause of concern. During the probe, the income tax department seized a diary from his home that contained a list of names of politicians and senior police officers to whom the gutkha manufacturers allegedly bribed. The company allegedly paid senior police officers Rs 40 crore, in order to continue selling gutkha in the state.
After the preliminary probe into the matter, a petition was filed by DMK lawmaker J Anbazhagan, seeking further probe into the scam. Passing orders on the petition, the Madras High Court transferred the case to the CBI.
On being questioned over the involvement in gutkha scam, the gutkha manufacturer had admitted to the Income Tax Department, of sold the products to the tune of Rs 384.38 crore between November 2014 and June 2016.
While the Income Tax officials has referred the matter to the assessment wing, the Directorate General of Vigilance (Customs and Central Excise), which also inquired into the matter, collected about ₹9 crore in Excise duty from the manufacturer.