I-T sleuth's gutka scam alert found in V K Sasikala's room

Chennai: In a shocking revelation, a top Income-Tax investigator has told the Madras high court that a secret communication from her department to the state director general of police seeking action against highly placed persons in the government suspected to be involved in the gutka scam, was found in V.K.Sasikala’s room in the late CM Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden bungalow when another I-T raid team searched the place on November 17 last year. 

The secret letter was sent on August 11, 2016 along with all the relevant evidence and sworn affidavits of the gutka firm partner, which showed that payments were made to various government officials including the health minister and the Commissioner of Police (Chennai),. This was revealed in the counter affidavit filed by Ms Susie Babu Varghese, Principal Director of Income-Tax (Investigation), in response to the PIL by DMK legislator J Anbazhagan, who sought constitution of a special investigation team headed by a retired high court judge to probe into the panmasala/gutka scam. 

This bombshell of Ms Varghese’s affidavit will be a shot in the arm of the opposition DMK, which has made the gutka scam one of its prime weapons for targeting the government. The party MLA’s PIL alleges that the banned gutka was freely manufactured and sold in the state thanks to the patronage of highly placed state and central officials, including the state health minister C.Vijaya Baskar, then Chennai Police Commissioner S. George and DGP Rajendran. The I-T top sleuth in her affidavit said MDM gutka firm partner Madhava Rao had in sworn affidavit stated he had paid `56 lakh to the state health minister during the period April 1-June 15, 2016.  

He had also confessed paying “various persons” through intermediaries during this period, Ms Varghese told the court. 

The affidavit came to media light when the I-T department served copy of it to petitioner Anbazhagan’s lawyer P.Wilson for his ‘rejoinder if any’. 

The big question that could now occupy the centre stage of legal as well as political battlefields is: Why didn’t the government take any action on the I-T department’s ‘secret’ letter of August 11, 2016, addressed to the Chief Secretary and the DGP? It may be recalled that Jayalalithaa was the Chief Minister at that time, though not in the best of health. She was rushed unconscious to the Apollo Hospital by Sasikala six weeks later, on September 23.  

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