The gutkha scam in Tamil Nadu

Gutkha scam: I-T dept. for CBI probe

The contraband is being smuggled into the State mainly via trains.  

The Income Tax department has supported the plea of DMK MLA J. Anbazhagan for a CBI probe into the gutkha scam, saying documents recovered by it from a gutkha manufacturer had revealed payments to Ministers and police officers to prevent action from being taken against the sale of the banned product in the State.

During the course of the hearing before Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose, Additional Solicitor General G. Rajagopalan said that a “secret letter” written by the I-T department to the Chief Secretary and DGP with regard to the scam in August 11, 2016 were recovered from rooms occupied by V.K. Sasikala at Veda Nilayam, the residence of former CM Jayalalithaa.

He also said that it would be appropriate to hand over the investigation to an independent agency when the allegations were against the State police officials. Subsequently, Senior Counsel P. Wilson, representing the petitioners, referred to the news report ‘Gutkha products freely available’ published in The Hindu on January 13 and said it only demonstrates the laidback approach exhibited by the State government officials towards the issue.

Pointing out that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had filed a counter affidavit clearly stating the health hazards that could be caused due to chewing of gutkha containing tobacco, Mr. Wilson said that despite such harmful effects, the Food Safety department officials in the State had booked just one case in the last four years. He said a CBI probe must be ordered in the case at least in the interest of safeguarding people’s health.

Advocate General Vijay Narayan said the stage of ordering a CBI probe into the case had already been crossed since a Division Bench had rejected a similar plea by another litigant and instead ordered a probe under the supervision of the State Vigilance Commissioner. He submitted, in a sealed cover, a status report on the investigation and requested the judges to peruse it.

The court could order a CBI probe at this stage only if it was convinced that the vigilance officials had not conducted the probe in the right direction and not otherwise, he contended. He accused I-T officials of not providing to the Vigilance Commissioner the original documents and hard disks recovered by them from gutkha manufacturers. He pointed out that there were chances of the hard disks having been tampered with.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 12:27:19 AM |

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