The Tamil Nadu government on Monday transferred Vigilance Commissioner VK Jeyakodi, who is investigating the gutkha scam, to the Land Administration Department.
The scam was uncovered in 2016 when raids shook the godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and gutkha manufacturer in Tamil Nadu, who was facing charges of evading taxes to the tune of Rs 250 crore. The sale of gutkha and chewable tobacco is banned in the state.
Documents seized from these raids included the now-infamous Sekhar Reddy diary, which lists State Health Minister Vijayabhaskar as one of the people the gutkha mafia had paid off.
Jeyakodi was one of the senior-most officers at the helm of affairs at the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC).
It is believed that this transfer comes in the wake of the Madras High Court asking, in response to a petition, on Tuesday why the investigation was not transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The probe itself is a result of an order of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.
The Opposition party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, staged a walkout from the Assembly, on Wednesday, following questions they raised regarding Jeyakodi's transfer. The DMK's Working President MK Stalin demanded to know why the officer was transferred in such a hurried manner, even as the Madras High Court is hearing a PIL regarding the matter.
While the DVAC has, so far, registered cases against lower-level officials allegedly involved in the scam, there have been no cases registered against senior officials. The Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu, Rajendran had also figured in the diary.
The Chief Minister of the state informed the State Assembly in June last year that the DVAC was conducting a probe into the allegations. He also said that it would be based on a communiqué sent by the Chennai City Police Commissioner to the Home Secretary on the sale of banned gutkha, in connivance with a minister and some police officials.