The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the multi-crore 'gutka scam'.
The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the multi-crore ‘gutka scam’. Reacting on the development, DMK working president MK Stalin demanded the resignation of Tamil Nadu minister Vijaya Bhaskar. “We welcome the court’s judgement. We want TN minister Vijaya Bhaskar and DGP TK Rajendran should be sacked immediately,” Stalin said.
However, Tamil Nadu minister D Jayakumar said that there’s no question of Health Minister Vijaya Bhaskar resigning. “It is not a setback. When inquiry reveals the guilty, only then the question (of the resignation of Vijaya Bhaskar) arrives,” D Jayakumar said.
Earlier, the state government had opposed transferring of the case to the CBI. Submitting the status report in Madras High Court, the government had also said that there was a statutory bar in transferring the case to the CBI. To this, the court had wondered as to why the state government was opposing a “simple” public interest litigation.
A CBI probe in the case was sought by DMK MLA J Anbazhagan through a PIL.
In his PIL, Anbazhagan alleged that a state minister and high-level state and central government officers, including police officials, were involved in the scam to “facilitate” the sale of banned ‘gutkha’ (tobacco product). He argued that only Central Bureau of Investigation alone can conduct a thorough and impartial probe in the matter.
P Wilson, counsel for Anbazhagan, had also submitted that the probe should be transferred to the CBI since more than one state was involved in the scam. Demanding a fair probe, he said higher officials of the state and central governments were involved in the case.
The Gutka scam surfaced in July, 2016 when the Income Tax department raided the residences, offices, and godown of a pan masala baron who was accused of evading taxes to the tune of Rs 250 crore. The manufacturing and sale of the Gutka were banned by the state government in 2013.
The IT department recovered a diary during its raids which mentioned a few names, including that of state’s health minister. Later, in April 2017, the IT department carried out raids at the residence of Vijaya Bhaskar, which later snowballed into a big controversy and led to a cancellation of RK Nagar bypolls.
In another big development, the IT department disclosed to the High Court that it recovered a confidential note written by it from expelled AIADMK leader V K Sasikala’s room in late Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa’s house in Poes Garden residence during its raids.
The tax department’s letter had been forwarded through the then DGP TK Rajendra to the then chief minister, Jayalalithaa. It raised serious questions as to how a secret letter written to the chief minister was in possession of her aide.