The CBI carried out searches at the Delhi residence of the Deputy Director General of Competition Commission of India (CCI) in connection with the Tamil Nadu gutka scam, officials said Friday.
The searches were conducted at the East Delhi residence of Ravi Chandran, the CCI Deputy Director General who was earlier posted as Senior Intelligence Officer at the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) in Chennai, they said.
The agency carried out searches after getting inputs about his suspected role in the scam as a DGCEI officer during 2013-15, they said.
The agency also questioned S Sridhar, the then Assistant Commissioner at DGCEI whose premises were searched on Thursday, they said.
Additional Commissioner of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Senthil Valavan, whose premises was also searched on Thursday, has been summoned by the agency to join the investigation, they said.
An income tax raid on the godown, offices and residence of a gutka manufacturer on July 8, 2017 blew the lid off the scam.
Annamalai Industries was operating in spite of the ban imposed on the sale and manufacturing of gutka (a concoction of tobacco and pan masala) in Tamil Nadu since 2013.
During the searches at the premises of the manufacturer, who was facing charges of tax evasion to the tune of Rs 250 crore, the taxmen found a diary in which details of alleged payments were listed.
A DMK leader approached the Madras High Court in April this year, seeking a CBI probe into the alleged bribery of top officials and politicians who allowed the company to operate with impunity in the state, they said.
It was alleged by the petitioner in the Madras High Court while demanding a CBI probe that monthly payments worth over Rs 14 lakh were made to Health Minister Vijayabaskar, while payments in lakhs of rupees were made to officials of the Central Excise, Food Safety and Sales Tax department of the state, senior police officials and politicians, among others.
This was challenged in the Supreme Court by a Tamil Nadu health official but the apex court sided with the Madras High Court order and asked the CBI to register a case.
The agency had registered an FIR against unidentified officials of the Tamil Nadu government, Central Excise Department and the Food Safety Department in May.
The company was earlier known as Jayam Industries which was rechristened as Annamalai Industries to continue the sale after Tamil Nadu banned gutka in 2013, they said.
The promoter directors of Jayam Industries — A V Madhav Rao, Uma Shankar Gupta and Srinivas Rao — continued selling MDM brand gutka in the state even after the ban by allegedly influencing officials, politicians and regulatory authorities, the agency officials said.