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CVC slams Department of Revenue, CBDT and CBEC for shielding corrupt officials
January, 08th 2013

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has slammed the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance and two of its key organs - the Central Bureau of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) - for shielding its allegedly corrupt senior officials.

In response to an RTI application filed by ET, CVC has revealed the minutes of all annual review meetings held by it in 2012 with the Central Vigilance Officers (CVOs) of various government sectors. The minutes of one such meeting held on July 27, 2012, with CVOs of the Revenue and Transport Sector reveal that CVC came down hard on the Department of Revenue, CBDT and CBEC for going slow against corruption. The minutes clearly state that CVC Pradeep Thakur said at the meeting that there is a "perceptible tendency" in the Department of Revenue of "trying to protect particularly senior officers" in the organisation.

CVC asked Shashi Shekhar, the additional secretary (revenue) and CVO of Department of Revenue, to make concerted efforts to liquidate the pendency of corruption complaints, saying the commission was concerned over the inordinate delay in implementation of its advice for action.

CVC also criticised CBEC at this meeting, saying that certain accused officers in CBEC are made to retire without any action against them for corruption and that action after retirement is "indefinitely delayed" to the advantage of the accused officers. The minutes state that CVC pointed out that investigating officers (IOs) in CBEC had the tendency to hold charges against officers as "not proved" in most of the cases and CVO also generally tend to agree with the findings of IO even in cases of glaring omissions and commissions.

"Reports of IOs are not scrutinised by CVO with due objectivity and diligence. CVC stated that IOs, at times, even ignore the board's own guidelines while conducting inquiries and that accountability should be fixed by IOs in fair and just manner even against their own colleagues and no personal relations should interfere in the decision making of IOs," the minutes provided under RTI state.

Shielding top officers is a phenomenon in CBDT too, the minutes indicate.

"CVC expressed its concern at the inordinate delays being caused by CBDT in finalising regular departmental action cases, implementation of CVC's advice and in grant of sanction for prosecution. CVC stated that such delays indicated reluctance of the administration in taking action against senior officials and such delays, especially in grant of sanction for prosecution, are completely unacceptable. CVC also expressed its displeasure at the arbitrary fashion in which adjudicating officers are passing the orders while deciding cases of higher revenue implications," the minutes say.

CVC was similarly anguished about the large number of pendency of action against allegedly corrupt officials in CBDT, saying Supreme Court has recently made it mandatory for prosecution sanction to be granted within three months and officers intentionally delaying the same to be held accountable.

As per the CVC annual report for 2011, CBDT and CBEC were still to take action against a total of 474 corrupt officers against whom CVC advised action over six months ago. 334 such cases were pending in CBEC while 144 cases were pending in CBDT. In comparison, CBEC took action only against 69 of its officers last year while CBDT acted against just eight officers.

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