Tracking the probe on Sekhar Reddy's illegal money trail — Gold, cash and murky deals

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary terms raid a ‘constitutional assault’

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P. Rama Mohana Rao lashed out at the Central and State governments on Tuesday, calling the recent income tax raid on his house and official chamber in the Secretariat a “constitutional assault” on his high office, alleging procedural violations in the operation and debunking reports of large-scale seizures.

Speaking to the media outside his house in Anna Nagar here, Mr. Rao invoked the name of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa multiple times, even questioning whether such a raid would have happened had she been alive.

Mr. Rao criticised the State government for not standing up for him.

He denied any links with Sekhar Reddy, a businessman and public works contractor arrested by the CBI and whose properties were also raided by the taxmen the previous week.

On December 21, the Income-Tax department conducted extensive searches at the houses and offices of Mr. Rao and his family members in Chennai, Bengaluru and Andhra Pradesh where they seized ₹30 lakh cash and five kg of gold. Three days later he complained of chest pain and was admitted to Sri Ramachandra Hospital and was discharged on Monday.

After thanking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Rajya Sabha member S.R. Balasubramoniyan, who joined the AIADMK recently, for criticising the searches, Mr. Rao assailed what he alleged were irregularities in the raids.

 

“My name was not there in the [search] warrant. My son’s [Vivek Papisetty] name was there and he does not live here [Anna Nagar]. After he returned to India he has lived separately,” he added.

Searches based on evidence: official

Mr. Rao questioned the authority by which his chamber at the Secretariat was searched by the Income-Tax department.

“If the former Chief Minister were alive would anyone have had the guts to enter the Chief Secretary’s chamber? Where is the State government? Whose permission did they get?” he asked.

Reacting to Mr. Rao’s comments, a senior Income-Tax official said the raids were conducted as per law. Based on documents found in one particular place, a search can be carried out at multiple locations without prior notification, the official said. Another official added: “Mr. Rao and Mr. Sekhar Reddy had strong connections and the raids were based on evidence.”

Mr. Rao claimed that he was still the Chief Secretary of the State, considering that his transfer orders had not been served to him. “They have not shown me a copy of the transfer order.”

He waved a set of documents, including the Panchnamas relating to the raid. “They found Rs. 1,12,320 in cash, 42 sovereigns of gold and silver weighing 25 kg,” he read out from the sheet.

On ‘secret chamber’

Pointing to a door at the basement of his house, Mr. Rao said, “There were reports that this is a ‘secret chamber.’ That is a store room where old material and clothes are kept.” Copies of these documents were later released to the media.

Mr. Rao also said he feared for his life. “I’m being targeted and my life is in danger. If this can happen to me, what will happen to others,” he told the media, towards the end of the half-hour press meet.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 11:28:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Former-Tamil-Nadu-Chief-Secretary-terms-raid-a-%E2%80%98constitutional-assault%E2%80%99/article16950801.ece

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