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Modi govt placates IRS officers unhappy with promotion delays, forced retirements

Delegation tells minister that at a time when corrupt IRS officers are being forced to retire, the honest ones should also be rewarded.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has assured Indian Revenue Service officers unhappy about delays in promotions, stagnation and forced retirement of officers that their grievances are being looked into.

In a meeting with Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh last week, a delegation of officers is learnt to have expressed grievances about not being promoted in a speedy manner, as compared to their Indian Administrative Service counterparts.

“It has been a long-standing demand of officers from our service that there be parity in promotion and recruitment rules of IRS officers vis-à-vis IAS officers,” a senior IRS officer told ThePrint.

“Especially now that there is so much scrutiny on the service in terms of forced retirements, the officers feel that if the corrupt ones are being punished, then the honest ones should also be rewarded.”

Since being re-elected in May, the Narendra Modi government has compulsorily retired more than 60 officers from the IRS.

“While we have welcomed the punishment meted out to the corrupt officers, there is some degree of resentment in the service about why only IRS officers are being fired,” the officer said. “Surely, it is not as though nobody from the IAS and IPS is corrupt.”

However, according to an official from the DoPT, minister Singh assured the delegation that while the government is cracking down on corrupt officers, those working with integrity would be rewarded with a work-friendly environment and timely service incentives.

The minister is also learnt to have told the delegation that promotions for the service will be expedited.

Also read: IAS, IFS, IRS officers hail Modi govt crackdown on ‘corrupt’ colleagues

Officers sceptical

But officers who spoke to ThePrint are less optimistic.

“This government has tried to ensure that the IAS officers don’t get their way around all the time, but it has not been able to break their hegemony,” said one IRS officer, on the condition of anonymity.

The officer added that even in 2017, a delegation of officers had met with the minister, but nothing came of it. This delegation had also asked Singh to ensure clearance of the backlog in their promotions.

In a memorandum submitted to the minister, the IRS officers said while around 450 posts of Joint Commissioner/JAG level were lying vacant, there were no officers who could be promoted because Recruitment Rules stipulate a minimum residency of five years at Deputy Secretary level as eligibility criteria — a rule which they see as “a systemic bias” against their service.

The officers had also requested the DoPT for a nine-month relaxation in the eligibility criteria, but the demand was turned down since it could lead to all other services demanding an ad-hoc relaxation.

Then, in June last year, the IRS Association wrote a sharply-worded letter to the PM, in which it alleged a “bias” in favour of IAS officers in matters of empanelment and selection to the secretary, additional secretary and joint secretary positions.

“Currently, no officer from the IRS is at the secretary-level and even at the additional secretary-level. The systematic discrimination has led to a negligible number of officers from our service having an opportunity to work at that level,” the letter read.

Also read: Modi govt has reduced recruitment of IRS officers by over 70% since 2014


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