New Delhi: Exactly a week after the Modi government compulsorily retired 12 income tax officers on charges of corruption and sexual harassment, it has now cracked the whip on 15 customs officers — forcibly retiring them from the prestigious Indian Revenue Service (IRS).
The 15 IRS officers retired Tuesday include those of the ranks of principal commissioner, additional commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).
The move comes even as five of the 12 officers forcibly retired last week are reportedly set to challenge the order in courts.
Officer who was critical of GST launch removed
According to the fresh list of retired officers, principal commissioner Anup Srivastava (1984-batch IRS) has been retired on account of several Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cases against him for criminal conspiracy, illegal gratification, demanding and accepting bribe.
Sources said Srivastava was also arrested in 2012, and subsequently suspended from the service. A penalty of Rs 20 lakh had been imposed on him for non-vacation of a government flat. He has a total of seven cases cited by the government.
Srivastava is also the president of the IRS (C&CE) Association, and had made some critical remarks on the way the goods and services tax (GST) had been implemented by the Modi government.
In 2017, the IRS body had said that some of the decisions taken by the GST Council, which was headed by then finance minister Arun Jaitley, were taken under pressure from the states. According to reports, the association’s protest had led to a warning from the finance ministry against criticising the government.
Subsequently, Srivastava sought the intervention of the PM to allay some of the concerns of the officers on the implementation of the GST.
“The decision seems to be one-sided in favour of states, weakening the sovereign function of the Centre regarding levy and collection of taxes… GST in this form may not bring the desired goals of better tax compliance, more revenues, ease of business and reduction in inflation and an instant spurt in economic growth,” he had written.
Others who have been retired
The other CBIC officers to be retired by the government include commissioners Atul Dikshit (IRS, 1988), who is already under suspension from service, Sansar Chand (IRS, 1986), G. Shree Harsha (1991), Vinay Brij Singh (IRS, 1995), additional commissioners Ashok R. Mahida (IRS, 1990), Virendra Kumar Agarwal (IRS, 1990), Raju Sekar (IRS, 1992) deputy commissioners Ashok Kumar Aswal (IRS, 2003), Amresh Jain (IRS, 1992), joint commissioner Nalin Kumar (IRS, 2005), and assistant commissioners S.S. Pabana (IRS, 2014), S.S. Bisht (IRS 2014), Vinod Kumar Sanga (IRS 2014) and Mohd Altaf (IRS, 2009).
All the officers have been retired under Fundamental Rule 56(j) of Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, which provides for compulsory retirement of government staff in public interest on account of corruption or bribery.
While the rule has always existed, it has got a fresh impetus under the Modi government, which is learnt to be keen on using it more proactively in order to get rid of corrupt officials and remove deadwood from the bureaucracy.
The removal of 27 IRS officers in a span of one week comes days after the Cabinet Secretariat and the Central Vigilance Commission reportedly asked the vigilance heads of various departments to identify officers for compulsory retirement under Fundamental Rule 56(j) of Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972.