The CBI on Wednesday conducted raids at 40 locations in Tamil Nadu in connection with the multi-crore gutkha scam in which involvement of state Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar and Director General of Police T.K. Rajendran is suspected.
The raids were conducted at the godowns, offices and residences of pan masala and gutkha manufacturers in Tamil Nadu.
The manufacture, storage and sale of the chewable forms of tobacco, including gutkha and pan masala were banned by the Tamil Nadu government in 2013.
The scam came to light on July 8, 2017, when income tax sleuths raided the godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and gutkha (a concoction of tobacco and pan masala) manufacturer in Tamil Nadu, who had been facing charges of tax evasion to the tune of Rs 250 crore.
During the raids, the department had seized a diary containing names of those who had been allegedly paid by the gutkha manufacturers.
Two months after this revelation, documents accessed by The Hindu and Times Now showed that an amount of Rs 40 crore was paid to the Minister and several officials as quid pro quo for facilitating the sale of banned gutkha in Chennai.
The case was sent to the CBI by the Madras High Court in April this year on the plea of a DMK leader.
The agency had registered an FIR against unidentified officials of the Tamil Nadu government, Central Excise Department and the Food Safety Department in May.
The agency has been investigating into all aspects of the offence of illegal manufacture, import, supply, distribution and sale of gutkha and other forms of chewable tobacco which are banned in Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Puducherry, including detection of and action against those involved in the offence whether directly or indirectly by aiding or abetting the offence or interfering with attempts to curb the offence.