Opposition DMK today demanded a CBI probe into the alleged bribe paid to a minister and officials over sale of banned gutkha, while Chief Minister K Palaniswami said the matter was being inquired by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC). Raising the issue for the second consecutive day today in the Assembly, Leader of Opposition M K Stalin demanded a probe by CBI and removal of the minister in question. He, however, did not mention the minister’s name. He also sought action against police officials involved in the alleged scam besides seeking registration of a case by DVAC.
Responding to the demand, Palaniswami said (the then) Chennai Police Commissioner had written to the Tamil Nadu Home Secretary on December 22 last year that “with the help of some Chennai Police officials, anti-socials were involved in the manufacture, sale and distribution of banned gutkha.” “The Tamil Nadu government had ordered a preliminary inquiry into the allegations by the DVAC on January 23 this year,” he said, adding the matter was being inquired by the anti-graft agency. The chief minister said the Madras High Court had on January 27 observed there was no need for its interference in the matter while dismissing a writ plea seeking a CBI probe into the alleged gutkha scam.
“We see no reason why the court should step into this issue when the authorities are themselves conscious of the gravity of the issue,” Palaniswami quoted the First Bench, comprising then Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar. Stalin said the chief minister’s reply was “not satisfactory”. He then led a walk out of his party members from the House. The main opposition’s allies Congress and the lone IUML member too staged a walk out over the issue.
The DMK had also staged a walk out yesterday after Speaker P Dhanapal disallowed a plea for a debate on the issue, saying it was based on media reports. Today, seeking the nod of the Chair to raise the issue, Stalin said he has submitted proof in this regard. Following this, the Speaker allowed the DMK leader to talk on the issue and assured him that the chief minister would reply on the matter. In his remarks, Stalin recalled the Income Tax raids last year against Madhava Rao of a gutkha manufacturing firm and seizure of diaries and some accounting ledgers which had details of alleged payout to a minister and some police officials.