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Editorial: Government Launches Much Needed Clean-up Drive in Machinery

Port Wings, 26 June 2019:

Last week, the Union Government has compulsorily retired 15 senior officers of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) under Rule 56 (j). The sacked officials include the ranks of Principal Commissioner, Commissioner, Additional Commissioner, & Deputy Commissioner of CBIC.

The news –about the manner these “very influential” officers were sacked – has created the needed fear about the system or government machinery that needs to be more productive among the junior officials.

Though these officers either had corruption cases registered against them by the CBI or were involved in bribery, extortion and disproportionate assets cases, the manner in which they were sent home was literally welcomed by the common man using the department.

According to Finance Ministry sources, with the move, the government hopes to send across a tough message to senior officials sitting on top positions and involved in kickbacks for facilitating tax evasion by companies.

All these 15 sacked officers would be paid a sum equivalent to the amount of pay and allowances for a period of 3 months calculated at the same rate at which they were supposed to be withdrawing them (pay and allowances) immediately before their retirement.

This is the second such incident of forced retirement after the new Modi government came to power on May 30.

Almost a week after taking charge, the central government had on June 10 compulsorily retired a dozen senior government officers, including a chief commissioner, principal commissioners and commissioner of the Income Tax Department, under the Rule 56(j) of the General Financial Rules (GFRs).

Under the section, the performance of an officer who has turned 50 or 55 or has completed 30 years of service (whichever is earlier,) is being reviewed to ascertain if he/she is liable for compulsory retirement.

In addition, a day after 12 officials were forcibly retired, the CBDT, on June 11, demoted four officials on the basis of “pending” vigilance cases against them.

“In view of pending disciplinary/vigilance cases against the four officers, the competent authority has decided not to extend the term of ad-hoc appointment of the officers… Accordingly, the officers are reverted to their substantive post—the Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax—with immediate effect,” an order regarding the sacking had stated.

Furthermore, reports suggested that the Cabinet Secretariat and the Central Vigilance Commission had received oral instructions to the vigilance heads in all important departments (deemed to be face of governance) to expedite the process of identifying officers for compulsory retirement under the same rule.

Once the fear of such actions embedded with the thoughts of all junior level officers, then we can expect a more transparent as well as active offices in future.

 

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