Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Operation CleanUp: Modi govt. dismisses 15 revenue officials on charges corruption, bribery

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New Delhi, June 18: The central government dismissed 15 senior custom and central excise officers on Tuesday on the grounds of corruption and bribery in what appears to a second round of crackdown on revenue officials.
The latest spate of dismissals involved high-ranking officials of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs —from principal commissioner to assistant commissioner—some of them were already under suspension. An order from the
Finance Ministry said that the government invoked rule 56(j) of the Fundamental Rules.
Sources in the ministry said that the dismissed officers either had corruption cases already registered against them or were “involved” in bribery, extortion and disproportionate assets cases.
Among those dismissed include Principal Commissioner Anup Srivastava, who was serving as Principal ADG (Audit) in the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in Delhi, and Joint Commissioner Nalin Kumar, the order said.
Sources said that the Central Bureau of Investigation, which registered a criminal conspiracy case against him in 1996, had accused him of doing favours to a housing society that was illegally trying to obtain NOC for land purchases.
He also was booked in a bribery case in 2012, this one supposedly involving an importer trying to evade duties.  He also had complaints of selective arrests, harassment and extortion against him.
Among those dismissed was Joint Commissioner Nalin Kumar, who was already suspended had cases of fraudulent drawback and disproportionate assets.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (j) of rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules, the President of India has retired 15 Officers of Indian Revenue Service (C&CE) in public interest with immediate effect on completing 50 years of age,” a Finance Ministry tweet said.
“All these 15 officers shall 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 & allowances) immediately before their retirement,” the tweet said.
Rule 56(j) of the Fundamental Rules allows the appropriate authority to retire any government servant, in public interest, by giving notice of three months.
Commissioner in Kolkata Sansar Chand, who was allegedly involved in bribery, while Chennai-based Commissioner G Shree Harsha, who had a disproportionate asset case to the extent of Rs 2.24 crore, were also dismissed. CBI supposedly laid “a trap”, in both cases.
Two commissioner rank officers—Atul Dikshit and Vinay Brij Singh—who were under departmental suspension too have been dismissed from service by the government. While Dikshit had disproportionate asset case and a CBI case of fraudulent drawback against him, Singh had a DRI case against him of over-invoicing.
Deputy Commissioner Amresh Jain of the Delhi GST zone, who allegedly had a Rs 1.55 crore disproportionate asset case and cash recovery of Rs 95.24 lakh against him, was also dismissed.
The other customs and central excise officers who were dismissed from service include Additional Commissioner Ashok Mahida (DG Systems, Kolkata), Additional Commissioner Virendra Agarwal.
Besides, Assistant Commissioners —SS Pabana (under suspension), SS Bisht (Bhubaneshwar GST zone), Vinod Sanga (Mumbai GST zone), Raju Sekar (Vizag GST zone), Mohd Altaf (in Allahabad)—and Deputy Commissioner Ashok Aswal (Directorate of Logistics, Delhi) too have been ‘compulsorily retired’ by the government, the order said.
Last week, the government had sacked 12 Income-Tax officers on charges of corruption, forgery and professional misconduct, besides demoting four Joint Commissioner rank I-T officers to Deputy Commissioner rank over charges of corruption.
‘Vendetta’
Srivastava, head of Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) Officers Association, said the allegations of corruption levelled against him are wrong and that he has already been acquitted by courts that heard these matters.
He accused Ajay Bhushan Pandey of personal vendetta.
“My file for promotion to Chief Commissioner had gone to UPSC from the department after due vigilance clearance and UPSC had fixed the date for review DPC for December 20, 2018. But, the new Revenue Secretary (Pandey) called back the promotion file on December 19, 2018. A clear malafide personal vendetta,” he said in a statement.

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