CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government has given its nod to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute the former health minister C Vijayabaskar and commercial tax minister BV Ramana of the then AIADMK government along with seven others for their involvement in the multi-crore gutkha scam.
However, the state government has observed that the sanction to prosecute the two former Directors General of Police, S George and T K Rajendran, for their involvement in the scam will have to be accorded by the Union Home Ministry as they are retired IPS officers.
It is learnt that the Home Ministry has been approached to give its sanction in the matter.
The CBI's anti-corruption unit had written to the State government seeking sanction to proceeding against the two former ministers, two former DGPs and seven others. Vijayabaskar is currently MLA from Viralimalai.
The State government granted the investigative agency permission to proceed after receiving the opinion of the public prosecutor at the Madras High Court. The public prosecutor opined that the materials available on record disclose a prima facie case for launching prosecution against the two ministers and six others under Section 120-B of IPC with Sections 7, 11, 12 and 13 (2) read with 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.
Similarly, it accorded sanction to proceed against P Murugan, then Food Safety Officer, Gummidipoondi Block, Tiruvallur, of offences punishable under Sections 420, 468 and 571 of the IPC.
The gutkha scam came to light on July 8, 2017, when Income Tax sleuths raided offices and residences of Jayam Industries (now Annamalai Industries). which had been facing charges of tax evasion worth `250 crore and seized a diary containing incriminating evidence against top officials of the State. The CBI took over the probe on April 26, 2018, on the directions of the Madras High Court.
Gutkha scam: Officials to be prosecuted by CBI
1. B V Ramana - Former Minister of Commercial Tax
2. Dr C Vijay Baskar - Former Health Minister
3. S George - Former DGP and ex-Chennai Commissioner
4. T K Rajendran - Former DGP and ex-Chennai Commissioner
5. V S Kurinjiselvan - Then Deputy Commissioner (Enforcement), Commercial Tax dept
6. S Ganesan - Then Deputy Commercial Tax officer, Commercial Tax dept, Manali Assessment Circle
7. Dr Lakshmi Narayanan - Then Designated Officer, Food Safety Department
8. P Murugan - Then Food Safety Officer, Gummidipoondi Block, Tiruvallur
9. R Mannar Mannan - Then Assistant Commissioner of Police, Puzhal Range
10. V Sampath - Then Inspector, Redhills Police Station, Chennai
11. A Palani - The councillor and chairman of the health committee, Chennai Corporation
- The gutkha scam came to light on July 8, 2017, when Income Tax sleuths raided offices and residences of Jayam Industries (now known as Annamalai Industries).
- The case prominence after I-T sleuths, while inspecting late CM J Jayalalithaa's residence at Poes Garden, stumbled upon letters exchanged between the I-T Department and top State bureaucrats over the case in November 2017.
- CBI took up the probe after Madras High court in April 26, 2018 judgement dated April 26, 2018, directed the agency to conduct investigation into all aspects of the offence of illegal manufacture, import, supply, distribution and sale of gutkha and other forms of chewable tobacco, which is banned in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
- CBI files FIR in May 2018.
- Enforcement Directorate (ED) launched an investigation in the Gutkha scam under Prevention of Money Laundering Act in June 2018.
- In Sept 2018, CBI carries out raids in 35 places across India and later arrests four persons.
- On September 18 after raids at his residence, S George indirectly acknowledges scam but rejects allegations of receiving kickbacks.
- On Nov 16, 2018, CBI files preliminary Chargesheet naming all six arrested persons.
- 9. In July 2019, ED attaches 174 immovable properties in TN, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh with market value of Rs 243.80 crores and moveable properties in the form of shares and vehicles worth Rs 2.29 crores.