The gutkha scam in Tamil Nadu

DVAC sends questionnaire to CM’s Additional Secretary on gutkha scam

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has sent a questionnaire to Chief Minister’s Additional Secretary Jayashree Muralidharan in the case relating to the missing classified documents in the sensational gutkha scam.

While a reply from Ms. Jayashree to the questionnaire sent last week is still awaited, the Additional Director-General of Police/Director, DVAC, Manjunatha, and the Additional Superintendent of Police/Investigation Officer in the case M. Balasubramanian were both shifted out on Wednesday night.

Ms. Jayashree was also Additional Secretary to former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and the DVAC’s decision to question her follows replies received from former Chief Secretary P.S. Rama Mohana Rao and other Secretaries to the then Chief Minister on the issue.

Earlier, the State government had transferred senior IAS officer and Vigilance Commissioner V. K Jeyakodi barely five months after he was appointed to probe the scam. His appointment to the crucial post came after the Madurai Bench of the Madras High court ordered that an officer of integrity be appointed to the post to monitor investigation in the gutkha scam.

Asked about the transfers, a Home Department official said that these were being done as part of “routine administrative process.”

While the judgment on a petition filed by the DMK seeking a CBI probe into the scam has been reserved by the first bench of the Madras High Court, the DVAC has not filed the chargesheet in the case citing technical reasons.

The gutkha scam exposed by The Hindu relates to the findings of the Income Tax department which raided the premises of a leading manufacturer of the banned gutkha in Chennai and seized documents wherein it was claimed that bribes to the tune of ₹39.91 crore were paid to the State Health Minister, the present Director General of Police, a former DGP, a few IPS officers and others.

Demand for CBI probe

Opposition parties and civil rights activists had sought a CBI probe contending that the DVAC, which has officials drawn from the State police, may not be able to investigate fairly.

Also, some Central government officials were involved in the case against whom the DVAC has no jurisdiction.

The State government had initially denied receiving any report from the Income Tax Department on the bribery charges but The Hindu had published details of how and when the report was sent and received. Weeks later, the I-T department seized the report from Veda Nilayam, the residence of Jayalalithaa.

Mr. Rao had confirmed to The Hindu a few months ago that he had indeed sent the reports to Jayalalithaa.

According to official sources, confidential messages in sealed covers addressed to Jayalalithaa sent by Mr. Rama Mohana Rao and the then Advisor Sheela Balakrishnan were usually dispatched through Additional Secretaries Ramalingam or Ms. Jayashree.

The investigating agency had also sent a questionnaire to the then Additional Secretary Mr. Ramalingam. Former DGP Ashok Kumar, the then Home Secretary Apurva Varma and former Secretary to Chief Minister Venkataramanan are among those whose statements have been obtained.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2021 5:34:45 PM |

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