Tamil Nadu

Gutkha scam: I-T dept. writes to Centre

The Income Tax Department has written to the Directorate General of Vigilance, Customs & Central Excise, Ministry of Finance, giving details of alleged corruption involving some Central Excise officials in Chennai in the sensational gutkha scam.

A gutkha dealer had last year claimed to the I-T Department that he had paid heavy bribes to a State minister, two top police officers and a host of officials including those from the Customs and Central Excise Department to allow illegal manufacture and sale of the banned tobacco product.

Sources in the Income Tax Department told The Hindu on Thursday that the book of accounts seized on the premises of the gutkha manufacturer or his staff pointed to huge bribes paid to senior officials of the Central and State Governments to facilitate the manufacture, transport and sale of the banned product.

“We have written to the Directorate General of Vigilance, Customs & Central Excise, sharing details of the evidence seized during the search operation. It is up to the Ministry of Finance to take a call on the follow-up investigation,” a senior IT official said.

Asked if investigators questioned any of the officials alleged to be involved in the scam, the official said it was up to the Central and State investigation agencies to do so. “Since we have mentioned that no official has been examined in this case so far, we would not proceed further at this stage,” he added.

Seized during raid

The official said that the book of accounts was admissible evidence under the Income Tax Act. Referring to Section 132 (4A) of the Act, he said where any books of accounts or other documents are seized from a person during a search operation it may be presumed that the seizures belong to him/her and the contents of such books of accounts and other documents are true.

The book of accounts revealed payouts to the tune of ₹39.91 crore to various officials.

In 2013, the Tamil Nadu Government had banned the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import of gutkha/pan masala.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 10:54:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/gutkha-scam-i-t-dept-writes-to-centre/article19226677.ece

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