Under 56 (j), the performance of an officer who has turned 50 or 55 or has completed 30 years of service (whichever is earlier) is being reviewed to ascertain if he/she is liable for compulsory retirement.
A week after the government ousted twelve Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers belonging to the income tax (I-T) department on charges of corruption, it was the turn of their colleagues from the indirect tax department to face the axe on Tuesday. According to an official release, 15 IRS officers in the Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs (CBIC) cadre, who had attained the age of 50 years and above, have been retired, under Fundamental Rules 56(j).
Under 56 (j), the performance of an officer who has turned 50 or 55 or has completed 30 years of service (whichever is earlier) is being reviewed to ascertain if he/she is liable for compulsory retirement. Though the rule that provides for compulsory retirement of government staff in public interest has existed for several decades, it has sparingly been invoked.
As was the trend in earlier orders, the 15 CBIC officials have had cases against them related to disproportionate assets, impropriety, bribery, misuse of official position or even smuggling. Most of the cases had been initiated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and a couple of officials were already under suspension.
For instance, Anup Srivastava (1984 batch), currently posted as additional director-general of audit in Delhi has seven charges against him including illegal favour accorded to a housing society. Similarly, Atul Dikshit (1988 batch), a commissioner rank official currently under suspension, has a CBI case for allowing fraudulent drawback worth over Rs 74 crore and accumulating assets disproportionate to his known source of income.
Additionally, Nalin Kumar, joint commissioner (2005 batch) and SS Pabana, assistant commissioner (2014 batch) have been retired while under suspension currently. While Kumar has a CBI case against him on amassing disproportionate assets, Pabana was arrested by Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) for abetting foreign currency exports.
Further, Ashok Kumar Aswal, deputy commissioner (2003 batch) and currently posted as directorate of logistics in Delhi has a CBI case for accepting bribe of Rs 10 lakh. Another official of assistant commissioner rank, Mohd Altaf (2009 batch), currently posted in Allahabad, was found to be the mastermind and investor in smuggling of Red Sanders by adjudicating authorities and faced a penalty of over Rs 2 crore.
The orders issued by the department of revenue against these officials read as: “…. in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (j) of rule 56 of the fundamental rules, the president hereby retires ……… with immediate effect, he having already attained the age of 50 years.” The order said that the each official retired will be paid a sum equivalent to the amount of his pay plus allowances for three months equivalent to last drawn salary.
As FE reported earlier, the government has stepped up a process to identify the dead wood at the top rung of the bureaucracy, with a view to retiring several hundreds of non-performers over the next few months. According to sources, the Cabinet Secretariat and the Central Vigilance Commission have given verbal instructions to the vigilance heads in many departments to expedite the process of identifying officers for compulsory retirement.
The first Narendra Modi government made an attempt to make use of this rule but it could get only about 230 officers to leave government service before their scheduled superannuation on grounds of non-performance/lack of integrity. This time round, the axe could fall on a few thousand at least, sources said.