Fresh evidence has emerged to establish that the Income Tax Department had in 2016 indeed written to the Chief Secretary and Director-General of Police about the gutka scam indicating bribes allegedly paid to Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar and top police officers. The letters were even acknowledged by the offices of the State’s top bureaucrat and police officer.
The documents, accessed by The Hindu, effectively counter the Tamil Nadu Government’s claim that it had not received any “secret” note from the I-T Department on the multi-crore scam.
Documents establish that a day after submitting a secret note containing details of bribes allegedly paid by a leading gutkha manufacturer, the Income Department had written another letter to then Chief Secretary P. Rama Mohana Rao expressing apprehension about some policemen leaking information on searches. The letter dated August 13, 2016, alleged that whenever police forces were sought for search or seizure operations, a few police personnel alerted all the prominent tax payers in the locality in an attempt to curry favour with them.
In the letter the then Principal Director of Investigation B.R. Balakrishnan made a specific reference to the “secret note” on the gutkha scam. He wrote: “In the case of alleged payments connected with the State administration handed over to you yesterday, action as deemed fit may kindly be taken by the State administration.”
This communication was received and acknowledged by the Assistant Administrative Officer in the Chief Secretary’s office. The acknowledgement dated August 16, 2016, read: “Received one closed cover from Shri. B.R Balakrishnan, Principal Director of Income Tax, Investigation, Chennai, addressed to Chief Secretary to Govt. of Tamil Nadu, Fort. St. George, Chennai.”
Inquiries revealed that Mr. Rama Mohana Rao had written to the Home Secretary, who took up the matter with the DGP on the issue of providing police forces for the I-T Department across districts.
The communications were all marked to the Chief Secretary’s office. As regards the secret note on the gutkha scam dated August 11, 2016, given to the then DGP, the proof of acknowledgement was issued the following day by the DGP’s Camp Superintendent C. Rajendran.
A senior State official, who handled these files, told The Hindu that the second letter of the Income Tax to the Chief Secretary, which had a specific reference to the “secret note”, could have vanished from the official records since it was circulated from the Chief Secretary to the Home Secretary and then the DGP.
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had directed the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption to investigate into the matter of missing “secret note”. The agency conducted enquiries with the then Chief Secretary, DGP and Secretaries to the Chief Minister and others.
However, the case was handed over to the CBI, which took over investigation into the gutkha Scam.