IRS officers ordered to hold additional charge of junior posts at far flung cities in ‘unprecedented’ move
As many as 35 IRS officers serving as Chief Commissioners of Income Tax and Director Generals of Income Tax have been given ‘additional charge’ of a lower rank, i.e. Principal CITs/DITs by CBDT
In a development termed as “unprecedented”, “bizarre” and “downright illegal” by senior retired IRS officers, as many as 35 officers serving as Chief Commissioners of Income Tax (CCIT) and Director Generals of Income Tax (DGIT) across the country have been given ‘additional charge’ of junior posts.
In the order (number 186 of 2021), these CCITs and DGITs have been asked to discharge functions of officers at lower ranks, i.e. as Principal Commissioners of Income Tax (PCIT) and Principal Directors of Income Tax (PDIT). Moreover, most of these additional charges are located at towns and cities hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres away.
Consider this: CCIT (ReFAC) posted at Vishakhapatnam is to hold additional charge of a PCIT at Hyderabad, 600 km away; CCIT (ReFAC), Vadodra to hold additional charge of a PCIT, Delhi, 1000 km away; DGIT (Inv), Chennai to hold additional charge of PCIT (ReFAC) at Varanasi, 1900 km away; CCIT (ReFAC), Shimla to hold additional charge of PCIT, Chennai, 2600 km away; CCIT, Panchkula to hold additional charge of a PCIT in Ahmedabad, 1200 kms away; CCIT (ReFAC-3), Kolkata to hold additional charge of a PCIT in Mumbai, 2000 km away!
ReFAC is short for ‘Regional Faceless Assessment Centre’, set up by the government recently in a move touted to reduce ‘corruption’ in the department. A notification issued by the CBDT on April 1, 2021 posted 34 IT authorities as the headquarter in the national capital and 4195 as headquarters of ReFACs across the nation.
When National Herald reached out for comments to General Secretary of IRS Retired Officers' Association SR Wadhwa, a 1959 Batch IRS officer who retired as Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Madhya Pradesh, he said that the order was “downright illegal”.
“How can they order an officer to hold additional charge of a junior position? This is unprecedented and downright illegal,” he said.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior IRS officer who retired as CCIT, Kanpur, said he was ‘aghast’ after coming across the order. “At first, I thought I was reading it all wrong. I’m unable to understand the reasoning behind giving officers additional charge of a lower rank, that too thousands of miles away in most cases. There have been a few instances where an officer was asked to officiate at a higher level for a short duration due to some contingency. But this kind of thing is unheard of and defies all logic,” he said.
“This is nothing but governance deficit. This kind of situation will severely affect revenue collection, assessment work and other critical functions discharged by the Income Tax Department,” he added.
Another retired officer said that the department has historically failed to streamline the promotion and posting policies. “A Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) is supposed to approve promotions of officers from one rank to the next, but despite a Supreme Court order that DPCs should make recommendations every April for the next financial year, it usually gets delayed. Similarly, posting orders are being delayed for months on end. This particular order, which is extremely odd, seems to be a culmination of such policy failures,” she said.
“Even if it was necessary to hand over additional charge, it should have been given to officers of the same rank posted at the same station. What was the problem in that?” she added.
No serving officer was willing to comment on the issue on the record.
An email seeking comments on the issue sent to Surabhi Ahluwalia, CIT (M&TP) & Official Spokesperson of CBDT, as mentioned in the official 2021 departmental directory, did not elicit a response till the time of publishing of this report. It will be updated if and when a response is received.
It may be recalled that National Herald had reported on July 27, 2021 that two dozen Principal Commissioners promoted on December 30, 2020 were not given any posting for 7 months, with the posting orders issued only on July 26, 2021. Further, in April, 2021, a large number of officers were promoted as Commissioners, but they were still awaiting posting orders.