initializationError » BadTag Bad tag: "" exception seen

Description

All my tests were running fine and all of a sudden i have started seeing the below exception.
Exception:
initializationError(com.runner.Sanity_AT) Time elapsed: 0.007 sec <<< ERROR!
gherkin.TagExpression$BadTagException: Bad tag: ""
at gherkin.TagExpression$TagExp.<init>(TagExpression.java:122)
at gherkin.TagExpression.add(TagExpression.java:57)
at gherkin.TagExpression.<init>(TagExpression.java:17)
at cucumber.runtime.java.JavaHookDefinition.<init>(JavaHookDefinition.java:28)
at cucumber.runtime.java.JavaBackend.addHook(JavaBackend.java:175)
at cucumber.runtime.java.MethodScanner.scan(MethodScanner.java:66)
at cucumber.runtime.java.MethodScanner.scan(MethodScanner.java:41)
at cucumber.runtime.java.JavaBackend.loadGlue(JavaBackend.java:86)
at cucumber.runtime.Runtime.<init>(Runtime.java:92)
at cucumber.runtime.Runtime.<init>(Runtime.java:70)
at cucumber.runtime.Runtime.<init>(Runtime.java:66)
at cucumber.api.junit.Cucumber.createRuntime(Cucumber.java:80)
at cucumber.api.junit.Cucumber.<init>(Cucumber.java:59)
at sun.reflect.NativeConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance0(Native Method)
at sun.reflect.NativeConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance(NativeConstructorAccessorImpl.java:62)
at sun.reflect.DelegatingConstructorAccessorImpl.newInstance(DelegatingConstructorAccessorImpl.java:45)
at java.lang.reflect.Constructor.newInstance(Constructor.java:423)
at org.junit.internal.builders.AnnotatedBuilder.buildRunner(AnnotatedBuilder.java:29)
at org.junit.internal.builders.AnnotatedBuilder.runnerForClass(AnnotatedBuilder.java:21)
at org.junit.runners.model.RunnerBuilder.safeRunnerForClass(RunnerBuilder.java:59)
at org.junit.internal.builders.AllDefaultPossibilitiesBuilder.runnerForClass(AllDefaultPossibilitiesBuilder.java:26)
at org.junit.runners.model.RunnerBuilder.safeRunnerForClass(RunnerBuilder.java:59)
at org.junit.internal.requests.ClassRequest.getRunner(ClassRequest.java:26)
at org.apache.maven.surefire.junit4.JUnit4Provider.execute(JUnit4Provider.java:262)
at org.apache.maven.surefire.junit4.JUnit4Provider.executeTestSet(JUnit4Provider.java:153)
at org.apache.maven.surefire.junit4.JUnit4Provider.invoke(JUnit4Provider.java:124)
at org.apache.maven.surefire.booter.ForkedBooter.invokeProviderInSameClassLoader(ForkedBooter.java:200)
at org.apache.maven.surefire.booter.ForkedBooter.runSuitesInProcess(ForkedBooter.java:153)
at org.apache.maven.surefire.booter.ForkedBooter.main(ForkedBooter.java:103)

My Runner class looks like this:
-----------------------------------------
package com.runner;

import org.junit.runner.RunWith;

import cucumber.api.CucumberOptions;
import cucumber.api.junit.Cucumber;

@RunWith(Cucumber.class)
@CucumberOptions(features = "src/test/java/resources/features/sanity/", format = {"com.common.CustomCucumberJSONFormatter:target/$BUILD_ID/cucumber/cucumber_json/BasicTestSuite.json" }, glue = { "com.xxxxx" })
public class Sanity_AT {

}

There is a @Before method in the Test class that has step definitions for these and that looks like this.
@Before("@run_xxx,@run_yyy,@run_zzz")
public void before(Scenario scenario) throws Throwable {

this.scenario = scenario;

}

The POM's cucumber dependencies are as follows:

<dependency>
<groupId>info.cukes</groupId>
<artifactId>cucumber-java</artifactId>
<version>1.2.5</version>
<scope>test</scope>
</dependency>
<dependency>
<groupId>info.cukes</groupId>
<artifactId>cucumber-core</artifactId>
<version>1.2.5</version>
<scope>test</scope>
</dependency>
<dependency>
<groupId>info.cukes</groupId>
<artifactId>cucumber-picocontainer</artifactId>
<version>1.2.5</version>
<scope>test</scope>
</dependency>
<dependency>
<groupId>info.cukes</groupId>
<artifactId>cucumber-junit</artifactId>
<version>1.2.5</version>
<scope>test</scope>
</dependency>
<dependency>
<groupId>info.cukes</groupId>
<artifactId>gherkin</artifactId>
<version>2.12.2</version>
<scope>test</scope>
</dependency>
<dependency>
<groupId>info.cukes</groupId>
<artifactId>cucumber-jvm-deps</artifactId>
<version>1.0.5</version>
<scope>test</scope>
</dependency>

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