The government of Tamil Nadu on Thursday removed state’s Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao, a day after his residence and offices were raided by the Income Tax (IT) officials. He has been replaced by senior bureaucrat Girija Vaidhyanathan.
Mr. Rao’s home in city’s posh Anna Nagar locality, his office and several other locations were searched for nearly 24 hours. The homes of his son Vivek Rao and some relatives in Chennai and Chittoor in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh were also raided.
The state government directed that Girija Vaidyanathan will also hold full additional charge of the post of Vigilance Commissioner and Commissioner for Administrative Reforms.
I-T department on Wednesday raided the residence of Rao in Chennai’s Annanagar. Informed sources said the searches of Rao’s residence and office were linked to the earlier IT raids on the residence of arrested businessmen J. Shekhar Reddy, who allegedly has business links with Rao’s son Vivek. J Sekhar Reddy was arrested on Wednesday in a case related to unaccounted money and tax evasion.
Income Tax officials claim to have recovered nearly Rs. 30 lakh in cash and five kilograms of gold during raids.
Income tax raids on most premises belonging to former Tamil Nadu chief secretary Rama Mohana Rao, his son and others in Chennai, Bengaluru and Chittoor that began on Wednesday were completed in the early hours of Thursday. However, raids were continuing at the offices of Rao’s son P Vivek Rao in Chennai on Thursday, a senior income tax investigation official said.
Vivek has six companies. Three companies are situated on the third floor of a building on the Chamier’s Road at Nandanam.
“We are surveying the three companies — Virtu Technologies India, Blue Ocean P&A Services and Trans Earth Logistics — since Wednesday evening. We need to check some more documents in those offices. The survey might be completed by this evening,” the official said.
Handpicked for the top job by the former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, Mr Rao superseded 17 IAS officers to become the top bureaucrat, but Rao had seemed to come off in poor light as significant seizures were made at the home of his kin — at least Rs 30 lakh cash and 5 kg gold.
As many as 13 premises belonging to the chief secretary, his son and relatives in Nellore and Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh and in Karnataka were searched leading to more seizure of cash and gold across south India.
Vaidyanathan, a 1981-batch IAS officer, is currently the Commissioner of Land Administration in the rank of additional chief secretary. She has earlier served as the Health Secretary from 2011-2012 during the tenure of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Vaidyanathan has held numerous positions overseeing departments in health, education, agriculture, transportation and state planning. She completed graduate studies in physics, chemistry and mathematics.