The Central Crime Branch (CCB) busted an e-pass racket run by two government employees and three cab drivers in Chennai on Wednesday. The CCB arrested five persons including a junior assistant at the Chennai Collectorate and a senior revenue inspector for allegedly issuing original e-passes to over 100 people for Rs 2,000 each without ascertaining the reason for travel.
According to reports, E Kumaran of Pulianthope, a senior revenue official and M Udhayakumar of MKB Nagar, a junior assistant at the Chennai Collectorate were arrested by the police for issuing e-passes without scrutinizing the documents. E Kumaran was also incharge of issuing e-passes by scrutinising the documents at Amma Maligai. The three cab drivers who were arrested by the police were identified as A Manoj Kumar of Selaiyur, Vinothkumar and M Devandran of Ambattur.
The government has been issuing e-pass only through online means to keep the process error-free. Those travelling to Tamil Nadu and between districts can get an e-pass only from the approved TN e-pass website https://tnepass.tnega.org/ following a scrutiny of the documents. Officials approve e-pass free of cost only in case of medical emergency, marriage, death or for stranded people.
The government has also been rejecting the e-pass applications of people in case they fail to substantiate the reason for travel and for failing to provide necessary documents. The three cab drivers, who had lost their livelihoods due to the lockdown, allegedly used to procure e-passes for people who want to travel to other states or districts to earn a quick buck.
The five arrested had started a WhatsApp group, and whenever a request arose for an e-pass, the cab drivers would post it on the group. Thereafter, the two officials would allegedly arrange for the pass without documents for Rs 2000, stated reports.
Learning that the two officials were issuing e-passes, other cab drivers also started advertising on social media. The information soon reached the Chennai Commissioner of Police AK Viswanathan, who immediately acted on this and approached a cab driver through another person. The driver allegedly confessed that he was involved in the network with the officials.
Based on this, the police have booked cases against the five under Section 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 420 (Cheating) of IPC. The five have also been booked under Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act.