The Income Tax Department has suspended a deputy commissioner for harassing a taxpayer and allegedly demanding “illegal gratification”, the finance ministry said on Friday amid plans of a major overhaul of the Direct Tax law, which aims at reducing the interface between the officials and taxpayers. “The Department has zero tolerance to such malpractices and corruption. Pending investigation, the officer has since been placed under suspension… The matter is under investigation,” the ministry said in a statement.
A complaint was received making serious allegations against D K Meena, Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax, posted at Surendranagar in Gujarat Region for harassing a taxpayer in a scrutiny case with mala fide intention, it said.
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked I-T officials to switch to electronic interface to bring down complaints of harassment and favouritism. A member of the newly-appointed panel tasked with redrafting a user-friendly Income Tax Law, Mukesh Patel recently told FE, “In the UK and the US, people have never been to Income Tax offices. Whenever issues arise, it is dealt over mail. There is no personal interface between citizens and I-T officials. In India, people are required to visit the office. The idea is to reduce personal contact or interface between common man and officials, to make the process hassle-free.”
The Finance Ministry said that “the officer was alleged to have demanded illegal gratification through the taxpayer’s Chartered Accountant for favourably completing the assessment”, adding that the audio recordings of conversations were also received mentioning the bribe amount being demanded by the officers of the Department for settling the case.
In order to verify the veracity of the allegations, it said, the case records were requisitioned immediately by the Vigilance Directorate of CBDT. On examination of the case records, serious lapses and irregularities were found which lend credence to the allegations made against the officer, it added.