In what is being seen as a major embarrassment for the Tamil Nadu government, the Madras High Court on Thursday ordered a CBI probe into the alleged multi-crore gutkha scam. The involvement of state Health Minister Dr C Vijayabaskar and Director General of Police TK Rajendran are suspected in this case.
The order was passed by the first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose based on a PIL moved by J Anbazhagan of the DMK. The HC's order comes despite the TN government opposing the PIL itself. The court had in fact noted that the way the government was opposing a simple PIL for a CBI probe into the alleged scam was prompting them to probe further, before reserving its verdict on the litigation.
In addition to this, the Income Tax Department has been providing the court with strong evidence of the possible involvement of several top police officials and bureaucrats in the case. This includes DGP TK Rajendran, former Chennai Commissioner P George and officials of the Food Safety Department.
Despite this, TK Rajendran was given a two-year extension and made the DGP/Head of the Police Force.
Talking to the media after the High Court order, DMK leader Anbazhagan said, "Since Rajendran became the DGP, we lost trust in the probe conducted by the state. That is why we went to the High Court asking for a CBI probe. They have admitted it and said CBI will inquire. In order for this case to proceed further both the DGP and the Health Minister must resign from their posts. Either that or CBI must arrest them and interrogate them under their custody."
Advocate P Wilson a senior counsel for the petitioner has said, “Even the FIR was registered only after the issue was highlighted in the state assembly by the opposition. When such was the situation, how can we accept that the DVAC would conduct a fair probe? Moreover, finding holes in the probe conducted by the DVAC is not the issue at all. Inflicting confidence in the people’s mind that a fair and transparent probe would be conducted is the need of the hour.”
The lawyer further added that 'conflict of interest' due to alleged involvement of government servants in the scam was amongst the main arguments for a CBI probe.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Vijayabaskar continued to deny allegations against him and told the media that he was not of afraid of a probe by the central agency.