Published On: Fri, Dec 14th, 2018

CBI to question TN health minister in alleged gutka scam

New Delhi: The CBI has summoned Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar and former state minister B V Ramanaa for questioning in connection with the alleged gutka scam on Saturday, officials said.

CBI has summoned Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar and former state minister B V Ramanaa for questioning in connection with the alleged gutka scam

Three other people have also been asked to appear before the agency, they said.

The questioning will be conducted in Chennai, and a CBI team will reach the city Friday night, the officials said.

The Tamil Nadu government had banned gutka (a concoction of tobacco and pan masala) in 2013, and it is being alleged that bribes were paid to bureaucrats, ministers and politicians to allow its manufacturing and sale.

The scam came to light on July 8, 2017 when income tax sleuths raided the godown, offices and residences of a Tamil Nadu-based pan masala and gutka manufacturer who had been facing charges of tax evasion to the tune of Rs 250 crore.

The promoter-directors of Jayam Industries — A V Madhav Rao, Uma Shankar Gupta and Srinivas Rao — allegedly sold MDM brand gutka by influencing officials, politicians and regulatory authorities, the agency officials said.

Jayam Industries was rechristened to Annamalai Industries to continue the sale, they said.

During the raids, the department had seized a diary containing names of those who were allegedly paid bribes by the gutka manufacturers.

On the plea of a DMK leader, the Madras High Court had sent the case to the CBI in April.

This was challenged in the Supreme Court by a Tamil Nadu health official but the apex court sided with the order of Madras High Court and asked the agency to register a case.

The agency had registered an FIR against unidentified officials of the Tamil Nadu government, the Central Excise Department and the Food Safety Department in May.

PTI

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