21 Income-Tax Officers forced to retire over allegations of corruption

The government on Tuesday forced another 21 tax officials to retire from their jobs over allegations of corruption, professional misconduct and possession of illegal cash, taking the total number of sacked officials to 85 since June this year, two finance ministry official said requesting anonymity.

This time the action has been taken against corrupt CBDT officials belonging to the ‘Group-B’ cadre at the rank of income-tax officers (ITO), they said.

“This is the fifth round of operation clean-up undertaken this year. With this till now 85 officer including 64 high-ranking tax officers from both CBIC and CBDT have been given compulsorily retirement under Fundamental Rule 56(J),” the first official said.

The above mentioned rule empowers the government to proceed against corrupt officials on the basis of available evidence. Accordingly, the government also has the absolute right to retire government officials prematurely on the ground of lack of integrity and ineffectiveness, in public interest, the second official said.

“The same retirement benefits are admissible to these persons [officials compulsorily retired] as applicable to officers upon retirement on normal age of superannuation,” the official said.

According to the officials, one ITO posted in Rajahmundry was forced to retire because she was caught receiving Rs 1,50,000 bribe, besides having assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. Another official in Visakhapatnam was trapped by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which recovered Rs 75,000 from his office in addition to the recovery of Rs 30,000 during the trap operation. An officer posted in Hazaribag was also caught in a CBI trap.

An ITO posted in Thane was forced to retire after she was caught red handed while accepting bribe. Another officer in Rajkot was trapped by CBI accepting a bribe of Rs 1,5 lakh. The agency found unaccounted cash of Rs 18,83,640 in his possession and Rs 1,44,500 from his bank locker, they said.

One officer posted in Jodhpur was penalised for illegal gratification and professional misconduct. “He acted in a manner detrimental to the proper functioning of the I-T department and its internal discipline and attempted to bring outside influence to bear upon his superior authorities,” the first official said.

An ITO at Ujjain was penalised for “criminal conspiracy and illegal gratification,” the official said adding that the person absconded during a CBI raid and later surrendered before the CBI Court of Indore.

According to the first official mentioned above, the revenue department’s operation to clean-up cadres of taxmen is in line with the Prime Minister’s public assertion that some black sheep in the tax administration might have misused their powers and harassed taxpayers, either by targeting honest assesses or by taking excessive action for minor or procedural violations.

The Tuesday’s action was taken after a gap of about two months. Last time, in September, the government forced 15 senior tax officials to retire from their jobs over allegations of corruption and professional and personal misconduct that included, in one case, bigamy, which HT reported on September 28. In June this year 12 senior CBDT officials were compulsorily retired. In the next three rounds, 49 high-ranking tax officials were compulsorily retired.

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