12 TOP TAX OFFICIALS TOLD TO RETIRE OVER ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUD, HARASSMENT

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12 TOP TAX OFFICIALS TOLD TO RETIRE OVER ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUD, HARASSMENT

New Delhi: The Union government on Monday forced 12 senior tax officials to retire from their jobs over allegations of misconduct such as fraud, extortion and sexual harassment, launching an unprecedented clean-up in the bureaucracy that, according to officials familiar with the matter, is likely to be extended to other departments.

The 12, all from the Indian Revenue Services (IRS), included seven commissioners – one of the topmost ranks in the Income Tax department; one joint commissioner, three additional commissioners, and an assistant commissioner.

“This is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion, ‘na khaunga na khane dunga’ [will neither steal, nor allow anyone else to] and a strong message has been sent in the system to shun corrupt practices at all levels immediately,” said a government official aware of the specifics of the crackdown, asking not to be named.

The 12 government orders issued on Monday and accessed by HT, said: “WHEREAS the President is of the opinion that it is in the public interest to do so; Now, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (j) of rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules, the President hereby retires [name of individual officers] with immediate effect from the afternoon of 11 June 2009…” The order added that they will be given three months of pay and allowances.

Such action, the official quoted above added, may be replicated in several other government departments where corruption is an issue.

The orders were issued against: joint commissioner of income-tax Ashok Kumar Aggarwal (civil code 85042), commissioner Sanjay Kumar Srivastava (87052), commissioner Alok Kumar Mitra (92030), commissioner Arulappa B (90116), commissioner Ajoy Kumar Singh (87067), commissioner BB Rajendra Prasad (92092), commissioner Homi Rajvansh (85043), commissioner Swetabh Suman (88078), additional commissioner Andasu Ravindar (91110), additional commissioner Vivek Batra (92075), additional commissioner Chander Sain Bharti (94086) and assistant commissioner Ram Kumar Bhargava (145FF),

HT could not reach any of the officers named above for their comment.

A second official aware of the crackdown said the allegations included serious charges, and in some cases the officers had been suspended and arrested by prosecuting agencies. “One dismissed official was already under suspension from 1999 to 2014 because of serious complaints of corruption and major extortion. Another official was dismissed as he was accused of sexual harassment by two women officers of commissioner rank,” the official added.

One of the most serious allegations was against an officer who is alleged to have amassed assets worth Rs 12 crore.

The other was the official accused of sexual harassment. In the case of a third officer, investigators found wealth worth Rs 3 crore which was believed to have been generated by abusing official position to collect bribes.

One of the 12 officials was forced to retire for professional incompetence. “This person proved to be ineffective as a supervisory officer as he failed to ensure important cases with large tax implications were assigned to senior and experienced officers,” the official quoted above added.

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