In the last 10 days the Union Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in two tranches of 12 & 15 each, compulsorily retired 27 Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers under Rule 56 (j) of the Fundamental Rules that empowers the Govt. to compulsorily retire any of its employees who having joined Govt. service below the age of 35 years has attained the age of 50 years or having joined after the age 35 years has completed the service of 20 years.
The compulsory retirement is held by the law not to be penal in nature & hence there is no need to issue show cause or opportunity of being heard.
Out of the 27 IRS officers 26 are accused of being corrupt while one S K Srivastava is accused of calling two female IRS officers “prostitute” & for insisting that their income from prostitution be brought to tax.
What is the core issue & what are the larger ramifications of this?
Containment of corruption that has seeped into public life, especially in the bureaucracy in India is perhaps one of the most important factors before Indian polity & it is a matter of record that PGurus has always stood by the Govt. in its resolve to contain, minimize & if possible eradicate this menace.
India – 2019
The India of 2019 is unique in the sense that it has perhaps the best possible team of Prime Minister Modi & Home Minister Amit Shah which is arguably even better than the team of Prime Minister Nehru & Home Minister Sardar Patel. Age is on the side of Amit Shah unlike Sardar Patel – Prime Minister Modi is not saddled with the failings of the outdated ideology of Marxism & the personal character that blinkered the vision of Prime Minister Nehru. In my humble opinion, Team Modi-Shah is far better placed to take India forward but…
Containment of corruption in public life is one such goal post that Team Modi-Shah would like to set for themselves & outwardly it seems that the agenda of the Team Modi-Shah has been acted upon by the Revenue Department but is that really the case?
Is corruption confined to just the Revenue Department alone & other services, especially the elite, twice-born Indian Administrative Service [the IAS] has no corrupt officers & needs no surgical operations like the one done by the Govt. in last 10 days in the Revenue Department? To know the answer, read on.
Is the IAS pure as the driven snow?
If a list of those involved in the scams in independent India starting from the Jeep scandal & passing through the Mundhra Scam to Bofors deal, 2G Scam, Coal Scam, INX Media scam, Aircel Maxis Scam, et. al., is made how many of those involved were from the Revenue Department & how many from the IAS?
The answer to this settles the issue that major corruption is not in Revenue Department but in those where public money is spent & which is invariably controlled by the elite IAS & which is evident from the spate of prosecutions launched by the agencies concerned against the serving & retired IAS officers.
It would be interesting to research what is the turnover of corruption of the Revenue Department & what is the same of the corruption of the departments controlled by the IAS officers.
It seems as though there is no reliable data. But one reliable indicator would be their post-retirement life & living standards.
Howe many Indian Revenue Service officers after retirement live in farmhouses & how many of the IAS officers after retirement are living in farmhouses across the country? Likewise, how many IRS officers have numbered Swiss bank accounts or have money stashed away in tax-havens & how many of the IAS officers have that advantage?
The answers to the above would give a reasonable and reliable parameter of corruption across the various Services of the Government.
While the inter-services spread of corruption is an important issue while dealing with the monstrous multi-headed hydra of corruption, the intra-services currents & turbulences too are equally important.
What about corrupt female IRS officers?
Calling a female IRS officer a prostitute and demanding that her income from prostitution be taxed may appear crude – it need not be unlawful depending upon the facts of the case, but that certainly would not be corruption & one accused of calling his female colleagues a prostitute as alleged and then demanding that they pay taxes on their income from prostitution certainly cannot be called to be corrupt in the way corruption & corrupt is understood in the society. We must understand that all these charges against S K Srivastava were framed by arguably one of the most corrupt Finance Ministers, Mr. P Chidambaram after the maverick officer found massive tax evasion and money laundering in NDTV. We have published a detailed article on who were behind the termination of honest officer Srivastava.
CBDT – The Central Board of Direct Taxes
Besides, the internal dynamics of CBDT, the lead agency in the present instance also needs to be looked at.
Pramod Chandra Modi (PC Modi), Chairman, CBDT was himself accused of being corrupt & there were credible allegations of him collecting huge amounts of bribe in surveys conducted by him or at his behest under section 133 A of Income Tax act, 1961 while he was posted in Gujarat & his elevation to the CBDT was considerably delayed but ultimately the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) & its Head K V Chowdary (KVC) gave him a clean chit & he became a Member, CBDT & then because of the certificate issued by KVC & the CVC, he became Chairman, CBDT over the head of his senior by an entire batch, Aditya Vikram.
It is possible that P C Modi (PCM) is not corrupt and was wrongly accused of that and that he was found to be clean (or came clean?!) in the inquiry by the CVC & KVC. But if that is the case, then the same courtesy should be extended to others as well.
The case of P K Gupta
Another example is that of Pramod Kumar Gupta (PKG), Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax at Kanpur & also at Delhi who is perceived to be a favourite of P C Modi but who was raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) twice on charges of corruption.
PKG was raided by the CBI while he was posted at Dhanbad, on allegations of destroying the incriminating records of coal mafia Ramesh Gandhi by faking a fire in his office in which the steel almirahs that allegedly contained the records got burnt but were found by the CBI to have been cut by gas cutters! Immediately thereafter P K Gupta left for the USA for a month long vacation claiming that he was being supported by his sister but the catch was that the said sister was only a research scholar, drawing a stipend of US$ 1250 per month!
To be fair, despite the Court ordering the re-investigation against him by the CBI, PKG got acquitted of the allegations against him. Once again, P K Gupta, while constructing a not-so-modest bungalow on Delhi border was raided by the CBI on the allegations of being corrupt having paid Rs.3,00,00,000/- (3 crores) to a property dealer for arranging a plot of his choice but again to be fair to him he stood acquitted by the Court in the trial.
P C Modi declares P K Gupta clean!
CBDT Chairman P C Modi has not only not found anything amiss about P K Gupta but also favoured him with the two charges at Kanpur & Delhi which according to the CBDT sources, is generally not done because of the administrative nightmare that would be caused because of the absence of the senior most officers from the office. But P C Modi, for reasons best known to him not only kept the name of P K Gupta out of the list of compulsory retirees but has showered him with unheard-of concessions!
The question that needs to be answered is why CBDT Chairman P C Modi is not letting others have the same largesse which he got for himself & his favourite P K Gupta, of getting a chance to clear their names in the Courts.
Similarly, PCM who seems to be aghast over two of his female IRS officers being called prostitutes has blocked the criminal prosecution of those two corrupt IRS officers for taking a bribe for reasons best known to him. He had also provided the lawyers [M/s DSK Legal & its partner Ravi Prakash, Advocate] to those female IRS officers to fight their cases of corruption at the cost of tax-payers’ money.
Quid pro quo games?
Sources in the CBDT have categorically been stating that S K Srivastava, who is accused of calling those two female IRS officers prostitutes and which has not been denied even in the Courts as those two female IRS officers took money from NDTV Ltd. to fake sexual harassment against him; that there was a massive fight with P C Modi over his efforts to hush up the corruption cases of those two female IRS officers. Why? Because an investigation into that would have incriminated NDTV Ltd. & its money laundering charges of Prannoy James Roy & Radhika Roy who were the bribe-givers. More significantly, the role of the colourful P. Chidambaram, who as Finance Minister & Home Minister in the Cabinet of minimal Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh would come to light. Having been obliged the post of CBDT thanks to the benevolence of a known Chidambaram man, K V Chowdary, P C Modi (himself a PC man) desperately wanted to save & cover up the crimes of former Finance Minister Chidambaram.
It is a matter of record that Sumana Sen had her spouse Abhisar Sharma employed by NDTV Ltd. while she was dealing with the tax cases of NDTV Ltd. Prannoy James Roy and Radhika Roy sent Sen and her spouse on all-expenses-paid free annual vacations abroad. The Roys also provided a luxury Bungalow worth about Rs.5 crores in NOIDA for hushing up their tax crimes.
Likewise, it is matter of record that Ashima Neb while inspecting after the Mauritius business of NDTV Ltd. had travelled to Mauritius with her companion & stayed in a 7-star luxury resort for about 10 days where nightly rental was upwards of Euros 1,100 besides being gifted membership of a Housing Society in upscale West Delhi costing about Rs.1 crore way back in 2008 & which has since appreciated to about Rs.5 crores now.
It is also a matter of record that when S K Srivastava asked for action against NDTV Ltd. & Prannoy James Roy for giving bribes, Sumana Sen & Ashima Neb faked a sexual harassment suit against S K Srivastava to get him suspended by (who else?) their partner-in-crime P. Chidambaram.
Therefore, the question which arises for consideration is whether the CBDT & its present Chairman is carrying out the agenda of Prime Minister Modi or in that garb settling personal scores with those who have been opposed to his patronage of the corrupt & corruption of the two female IRS officers, Sen and Neb.
PM Modi needs to act swiftly
Team PGurus strongly recommends that the Prime Minister, with the massive mandate behind him, constitute an independent, impartial committee headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge to evaluate the service records of the suspect & accused officers, get the allegations of corruption & being corrupt verified & thereafter act against those officers across the bureaucracy & not against the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) alone. There are bad apples in every basket.