CBI raids residences of TN Health Minister, DGP in Gutkha scam

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Sep 2018 08:20:31




The 40 places raided also include premises of former Police Commissioner S George in Chennai and an Indian Revenue Services officer


IN A possible first, premises of a Police Chief in Tamil Nadu were among 40 locations searched by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday in connection with Gutkha scam, officials said. After registering a case in May, the CBI carried out searches at 35 places in Tamil Nadu and five places in Karnataka, Mumbai and Puducherry which included residential premises of Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, Tamil Nadu DGP T K Rajendran and former Police Commissioner S George in Chennai.

An Indian Revenue Services officer has also been raided by the CBI in connection with the case, the officials said.
This is possibly a rare incident when a serving Director General of Police of any State has been raided by the CBI.
A 1984-batch IPS officer, Rajendran was made Director General of Police in 2016 after Ashok Kumar opted out for a voluntary retirement scheme. Officials said that Kumar, a 1982 batch IPS officer, was forced to seek VRS as he had recommended for a CBI probe in the Gutkha scam.

The scam came to light on July 8, 2017, when Income Tax sleuths raided the godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and Gutkha (a concoction of tobacco and pan masala) 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 Gutkha 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 Gutkha manufacturers.

The case was sent to the CBI by the Madras High Court in April this year on the plea of a DMK leader.This was challenged in the Supreme Court by a Tamil Nadu health official but the apex court sided with the order of Madras High Court and asked the agency to register a case. The agency had registered an FIR against unidentified officials of the Tamil Nadu Government, Central Excise Department and the Food Safety Department in May.

DMK demands sacking of Health Minister: THE DMK described CBI searches at the residences of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and Director General of Police T K Rajendran a “shame” on the State and along with other Opposition parties, demanded that the two be sacked. Demanding resignation of both Vijayabaskar and the State Police Chief, DMK President M K Stalin, in a statement, said, “The searches have brought shame on the State. Vijayabaskar continuing in the Cabinet and Rajendran as the head of the Police Department will turn out to be a blot against people’s rule and for the force known for its honesty.”

Hence, the Health Minister and the DGP should voluntarily quit their posts. If not, the Governor Banwarilal Purohit should dismiss them without further delay, he said and recalled the DMK earlier moving court seeking a CBI probe into the Gutkha scam, pertaining to alleged pay-offs by a Gutkha manufacturer.

CPI(M) State Secretary K Balakrishnan also demanded that Vijayabaskar and Rajendran be remove from their posts and made to face the probe. “What respect will people have on police and the Government after these raids? This is a very bad situation,” he told PTI, adding the CBI should take the case to its logical conclusion.

PMK founder S Ramadoss termed the CBI searches as “appropriate” in order to nail those involved in the scam and asked why the government was ‘hesitant’ to show the minister the door.

In a statement, he said the PMK has for the last two years been insisting that Vijayabaskar be sacked as minister over the issue. “By not removing Vijayabaskar, the K Palaniswami-led dispensation doesn’t seem to be a Government protecting people’s welfare but that of scam-tainted ministers,” Ramadoss said, adding the minister and the DGP continuing in their posts was ‘unacceptable,’ and they along all others connected in this case should be dismissed by the state government.