In a stunning disclosure to the Madras High Court, the Income Tax department said that its report to the former Director General of Police Ashok Kumar on the gutkha scam was found during the raids conducted at Veda Nilayam in November.
TNM has accessed pages of the affidavit that state that the 'secret letter' was seized during the searches.
The letter reportedly detailed corruption involving the Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabhakar, top police officers and others in the scam.
“The letter addressed to the Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu, the 10th respondent was handed over by special messenger from the Income Tax Department and acknowledgement was obtained from the Private Secretary of the DGP. It is further submitted that during the another search conducted subsequently on 17. 11. 2017 in the rooms occupied by V.K Sasikala in Veda Nilayam, a note dated 02. 09. 2016 (in original) signed by then Director General of Police addressed to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu enclosing copy of the Secret letter dated 11. 08. 2016 addressed by the then Principal Director of Income Tax to the Director General of Police was found and seized,” states the affidavit.
According to reports, this affidavit debunks the submission of the State Government that no I-T Department report on gutkha scam existed in their record
Former Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao had told the The Hindu that a report was submitted to the government and that he had forwarded it to former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The former CM reportedly wanted to take action against those named.
In addition to this, the department has also submitted that a tobacco manufacturer has admitted to giving Rs 56 lakh to Vijayabhakar. The businessman, Madhava Rao, has said in a statement that the amount was paid between the period of April 1 and May 15, 2016.
On July 8, 2016, raids were conducted at the godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and gutkha manufacturer in Tamil Nadu, who was facing charges of evading tax to the tune of Rs 250 crore. The manufacture, storage and sale of the carcinogenic chewable forms of tobacco, including gutkha and pan masala, were banned by the state government in 2013. A diary was seized during the raid, which contained names of those who were believed to have been paid off by the gutkha manufacturers – one of the names mentioned in the list was Vijayabhakar’s.
The seized ledger listed alleged payouts to senior bureaucrats and police officers too. Following this, Madhava Rao, one of the main partners of the gutkha manufacturer that sells the MDM brand, corroborated the payment of money to them.
According to pages of the affidavit accessed by TNM, payments were made to both the Health Minister and the Commissioner of Police.
“It is submitted that in the sworn statement recorded from Shri Madhava Rao, he has stated that the payments were made to various officials and explained the abbreviation of ‘HM’ & ‘CP’ as Health Minister of Tamil Nadu and Commissioner of Police respectively,” states the affidavit. “Payments were made to various persons ... through certain intermediaries, as named by him, between the periods ranging from 1. 04. 2016 to 06. 07. 2016.”
The Income Tax Department had conducted raids in the Health Minister's residence and other properties in April last year, and seized some documents. The minister, however, maintained that he was innocent and had never met or spoken to Madhava Rao.
But now, as per the affidavit, the IT department has recorded statements made by Madhava Rao's partners, Srinivasa Rao and Uma Shankar Gupta, in addition to two employees, BR Nandakumar and Yogeshwari. The Department has told the court that it has data from all their electronic devices as well as a copy of the Stock Statement.