CBI grills gutkha manufacturer

Besides the statements of suspects and witnesses, the agency is relying on the books of accounts and other documents seized from the office and residential premises of the gutkha manufacturer and its employees, which point to payment of bribes to top officials.

The sale of gutkha is banned in Tamil Nadu. The owner of the MDM brand of gutkha had, however, given a statement allegedly admitting to sales of the contraband between November 2014 and June 2016 to the tune of Rs. 384.38 crore.

After registering a case in May this year — following an order of the Madras High Court that was later upheld by the Supreme Court — the CBI wrote to the Income Tax Department, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption and other agencies, seeking documents relating to the case.

Though the usual practice of the central agency is to adopt the First Information Report of the State, in this case the CBI chose to register a fresh case against “unknown officials” of the Central Excise Department, government of Tamil Nadu, the Food Safety Department, public servants and private persons under Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and also invoked provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The gutkha scam, exposed byThe Hinduin June 2017, pertains to the alleged involvement of Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar and DGP-rank officers T.K. Rajendran and S. George, among others, in accepting bribes to the tune of Rs. 39.91 crore for facilitating the storage, transportation and sale of the banned commodity in the city.

Though the DVAC registered a case in September 2017, it could not file the chargesheet within the stipulated six months. The case was later transferred to the CBI by the Madras High Court while disposing of a petition filed by DMK MLA J. Anbazhagan.

Documents seized from the premises of the gutkha manufacturer point to payment of bribes to top officials

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