A special court in Chennai on Monday sent five people, including three gutkha manufacturers, arrested in connection with the multi-crore scandal to four-day CBI custody.
The special CBI court granted four-day custody to the central agency and asked it to produce the accused before it on Friday. The CBI had on Thursday arrested three gutkha manufacturers and two government officials for their role in the scam.
A V Madhava Rao, Uma Shankar Gupta and Srinivasa Rao, owner and directors of MDM gutkha company, Food Safety and Drug Administration department official P Senthil Murugan and Superintendent of Central Excise department N K Pandian were sent to judicial custody till September 20.
However, the CBI on Monday moved an application before the court seeking five-day custody.
This is the first arrest in the high-profile case involving Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar, Director General of Police T K Rajendran, former Chennai Police Commissioner S George and other officials from various state and central government departments.
The gutkha scam relates to bribes to the tune of Rs 40 crore being paid allegedly to Vijayabhaskar, Rajendran and George to allow illegal sale of gutkha in the state from 2013, when the ban on such products came into force, to 2016.
The arrest of Rao and his associates is significant since the entries in Rao's diary, which was recovered during an Income Tax raid in 2016 on his premises, forms a crucial evidence in the case.
The arrests followed massive raids at 35 locations in Tamil Nadu, including the residences of Vijayabhaskar, Rajendran and George, and in other states for the past two days in connection with the scam.