Gutka scam
New Delhi: Officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were on Wednesday searching 40 places in Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai in connection with the multi-crore gutka scam in which a minister and top State police and government officials are alleged to be involved. 

The houses of health minister C Vijayabaskar, Tamil Nadu director general of police TK Rajendran at Mogappair, former commissioner of police S George near Maduravoyal and other police officers are among those being searched.

The case is related to a raid by the income tax department in the offices, residences, and godowns of a gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu in 2016. During the investigation by the department, the gutka manufacturer had alleged that he paid huge sums of money as a bribe to a minister, two top police officers and others in return for being allowed to sell the banned tobacco products in and around Chennai.

The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka — a tobacco product. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others. Several political parties had demanded a probe by CBI into the scam but the AIADMK government did not agree.

The Madras High Court ordered a CBI probe into the scam in April this year following a petition filed by DMK legislator J Anbazhagan.

The scam came to light on 8 July 2017, when income tax sleuths raided the godown, offices, and residences of a pan masala and gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu, who had been facing charges of tax evasion to the tune of Rs 250 crore.

 

The manufacture, storage, and sale of the chewable forms of tobacco, including gutka and pan masala were banned by the Tamil Nadu government in 2013. During the raids, the department had seized a diary containing names of those who had been allegedly paid by the gutka manufacturers.

The case was sent to the CBI by the Madras High Court in April this year on the plea of a DMK leader.

The agency had registered an FIR against unidentified officials of the Tamil Nadu government, Central Excise Department and the Food Safety Department in May.