The probe agency has arrested four persons- three promoters and directors of Annamalai Industries- for their alleged involved in the aforementioned scam.
The Gutkha scam made all the headlines after Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had carried out searches at 35 locations across Tamil Nadu. The probe agency has so far arrested four persons- three promoters and directors of Annamalai Industries- for their alleged involved in the aforementioned scam. Food Safety and Drug Administration department of Tamil Nadu official Dr P Senthil Murugan and superintendent of Central Excise department N K Pandian were also taken into custody by CBI. Three promoters- A V Madhava Rao, Uma Shankar Gupta and P V Srinivasa Rao- were also arrested. Earlier on Wednesday residences of state police chief T K Rajendran, state health minister C Vijayabaskar were searched.
What is the Gutkha scam?
The case pertains to illegal sale of gutkha, a concoction of tobacco and ‘pan masala’ which was banned in Tamil Nadu in 2013, by Jayam Industries. The promoter-directors of Jayam Industries — A V Madhav Rao, Uma Shankar Gupta and Srinivas Rao — continued selling MDM brand gutkha in the state even after the ban by allegedly influencing officials, politicians and regulatory authorities, the agency officials said. Jayam Industries was rechristened into Annamalai Industries to continue the sale, they said.
The scam came to light on July 8, 2017, when income tax sleuths raided the godown, offices and residences of the company in Tamil Nadu, which had been facing charges of tax evasion to the tune of Rs 250 crore.
Matter reached Madras High Court, Supreme Court
During the raids, the income tax 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. It is alleged by the petitioner in the Madras High Court while demanding a CBI probe that monthly payments worth over Rs 14 lakh were made to health minister Vijayabaskar while payments in lakhs of rupees were made to officials of Central Excise, Food Safety and Sales Tax department of the state, senior police officials and politicians among others.
This was challenged in the Supreme Court by a Tamil Nadu health official but the apex court sided with the Madras High Court order and asked the CBI to register a case. The agency had registered the FIR against unidentified officials of the Tamil Nadu government, Central Excise Department and the Food Safety Department in May.