Gutkha scam: Former police chief denies bribe allegation

Chennai: Former Chennai police commissioner S George Friday denied the charge that he received bribe in the Gutka scam and claimed the scandal was "blown out of proportion" to prevent him from becoming state police chief.

"It is a total falsehood," he told reporters when asked about the charge that the gutka firm had paid him a bribe. CBI had carried out searches at 35 locations in the state Wednesday, including the residence of police chief T K Rajendran and health minister C Vijayabaskar, besides George.

An IPS officer of the 1984 batch, George, who retired in September last, had three separate stints as Chennai Police Commissioner from 2012 and 2017. He was also promoted to the rank of Director General of Police.

Following income tax raids in July 2016 at the premises of a gutka manufacturer, the state government was apprised by the tax department in August 2016 of entries in a 'book of record' (of the gutka firm) that claimed payoffs to officials, including two police officials and the Health Minister.

S George

On the charge that the money was paid ahead of Christmas in 2015 to an "ex-commissioner" (when he headed the Prison department), George said this was to make the allegation look credible since he was a Christian.

Somebody may have misused his name and falsely claimed that the money was for the police commissioner and taken it for themselves, he said. Quoting the CBI's FIR, George said he was not the Police Commissioner when the alleged payoff was made by the Gutka firm on three specific dates in 2016 (April, May and June) .

He clarified that he was not casting aspersions on the police officer who led the city police at that time. To a question if he felt targeted, he said, "100 per cent... this applies to T K Rajendran (incumbent DGP) as well... the whole scam was brought out at a time when either me or Rajendran was about to become the DGP."

George said the "whole thing was blown out (of proportion) and put in the papers to prevent me or Rajendran becoming the DGP." He, however, said "I am not saying there is no Gutka scam. There is a scam. There is somebody (behind)... something has happened."

The former top official sought to know who leaked out official information and confidential reports (about the scam vis-a-vis enquiry), just days before the DGP was to be named.

In connection with the case, he claimed that even some documents and files were "not there" in the DGP's office. On the CBI searches, he said the sleuths had only taken a sale deed of a housing board plot allotted to him in 1994 and certain lease documents and insurance policy of his car.

Defending himself, he quoted from a "court judgement," saying even persons of high integrity could be targeted on the basis of irrelevant and inadmissible entries made by unscrupulous persons or criminals on random papers.

"It is happening to me and I am experiencing it now," he said, adding making fictitious and false entries on some papers with an ulterior motive by unscrupulous elements should be guarded against.

George said he had written to the Home Secretary (December 2016) after assuming charge and again as Police Commissioner in September 2016 on the scam, underscoring the need for a probe after holding an initial inquiry.

He himself did not choose to hold an inquiry as the charge was "against the commissioner." Indicating there was something 'fishy' in respect of some police officials, vis-a-vis the scam, he said an official did not report about the scandal to his superior officers.


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