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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Gutka scam: CBI calls Tamil Nadu health minister for questioning again on Sunday

The agency on Saturday questioned Baskar, former minister B V Ramanaa, then additional commissioner, GST, Senthil Valavan, besides three more suspects -- V S Kuranji Selvaan, V Karthikeyan and Baskar’s aide A Saravanan in connection with the case.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2018 11:20 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
The CBI has called Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar and others for questioning again on Sunday after they were intensely interrogated Saturday
The CBI has called Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar and others for questioning again on Sunday after they were intensely interrogated Saturday (ANI)
         

The CBI has called Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar and others for questioning again on Sunday after they were intensely interrogated Saturday in connection with the alleged gutka scam in the state, according to officials.

The agency on Saturday questioned Baskar, former minister B V Ramanaa, then additional commissioner, GST, Senthil Valavan, besides three more suspects -- V S Kuranji Selvaan, V Karthikeyan and Baskar’s aide A Saravanan in connection with the case.

The agency confronted Saravanan, whose statement was recorded earlier, with Baskar who had reached the agency’s office in a taxi over two hours before the team of CBI officials arrived at the office, at around 10 am, to avoid the media.

The team had left for Chennai on Friday to carry out the questioning, officials said, adding Baskar was questioned for nearly eight hours.

All but Saravanan have been called again to appear at the Chennai office of the CBI for questioning on Sunday, 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 in the state even after the ban by allegedly influencing officials, politicians and regulatory authorities, the agency officials said.

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

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

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.