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CBI registers case in Tamil Nadu gutkha scam

FIR registered against unknown officials of Central Excise, Tamil Nadu government, food safety department, public servants and private persons under sections 120-B (Criminal Conspiracy) and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The fraud was exposed by “The Hindu” in 2017.

May 30, 2018 04:17 pm | Updated 05:15 pm IST - CHENNAI

 Photo for representation.

Photo for representation.

The CBI on May 30 registered a case in the sensational gutkha scam in Tamil Nadu.

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

The scam, exposed by The Hindu in June 2017 , pertains to the alleged involvement of State Health Minister C. Vijaya Bhaskar and DGP rank officers T.K. Rajendran and S. George among others by taking bribes to the tune of ₹39.91 crore for facilitating the storage, transportation and sale of the banned commodity in Chennai city as reported by the Income Tax Department.

Gutkha scam: the story so far

Classified note

The Income Tax Department had handed over a classified note to the then Chief Secretary, P.S. Rama Mohana Rao, and the then Director General of Police, Ashok Kumar, giving a list of officials who received bribes from the manufacturer of the MDM brand gutkha. Seeking appropriate action against the concerned, the department enclosed admissible evidence, the Book of Accounts, which contained the list of beneficiaries.

No action was taken on the secret note and when The Hindu exposed the scam in June 2017, the State government maintained that there was no such report from the Income Tax Department. However, in an interview later, Mr. Rao admitted that he did receive a copy of the report, and even said that he sent it to the then Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, who wanted to take action.

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), registered a case in September 2017, but could not file the charge sheet within the stipulated six months. However, investigators said they examined a number of people directly or indirectly connected to the scam.

The CBI taking up investigation in the case follows an order of the Madras High Court that was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court .

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