New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on May 14 a special leave petition against a Madras high court order directing a CBI probe into the alleged multi-crore gutka scam in which involvement of state health minister C. Vijaya Baskar and DGP T.K. Rajendran are suspected.
The high court acting on a writ petition filed by DMK MLA J. Anbazhagan had said the underground gutkka business is a crime against society and, therefore, a CBI probe is necessary. It all started on July 8, 2017, when the income tax department conducted raids at the godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu, who was facing charges of evading tax to the tune of Rs 250 crore.
The manufacture, storage and sale of the carcinogenic chewable forms of tobacco, including gutka and pan masala, were banned by the state government in 2013.
During the raids, the department seized a diary containing the names of those who were believed to have been paid off by the gutka manufacturers, and one among them was the state’s health minister. Immediately, the DMK moved the court seeking to appoint a special investigation team (SIT) headed by a retired judge of the high court, comprising officials from the CBI.
Challenging this order Health department official E. Sivakumar said the High Court erred in directing CBI probe when the DVAC investigation is in an advanced stage. The allegations pertaining to violations of the ban on sale and possession of gutka is being probed by DVAC and he had fully cooperated in the probe.
The petitioner said he had explained to the DVAC the action taken by the department against all aspects of gutka scam when the ban is in force. The High Court ought not to have entrusted the probe to CBI on a petition filed by a political rival to seek political mileage, he said and prayed for a direction to quash the High court order and an interim stay of the order....