IF THE recent spurt of income tax raids at the premises of all powerful IAS officers of the country is any indication, there is an underlying message – the high and mighty of Indian administration too have to pay a price for amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income. But who has taken this key decision of intruding into IAS officers’ citadel?
Does it mean that politicians of the ruling party have suddenly woken up to the fact that some of its top administrators, read Arvind or Tinoo Joshi, or Babulal Agrawal, have amasses huge cash-in-hand giving complexity to the country’s most corrupt politicians? Or else, does it mean IAS officers had all along been clean, and their resorting to corruption is a relatively new phenomenon?
Both these arguments are absurd, and rather ridiculous. But why then IAS or retired IAS officers (read former mining secretary of Jharkhand, Jaishankar Tiwari) are being repeatedly targeted by tax sleuths only now? If sources close to the development are correct, I-T officials (IRS officers) who are numbered over 4000 have been silently waging a war to end supremacy of IAS in the department, and in the process have shown their strength by targeting the vulnerable lot among the powerful IAS.
In fact, unlike in the railways or postal departments where IAS officers don’t dictate terms, the IRS officers ultimately come under the revenue secretary of the ministry of finance, and the top IRS officer, or the chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes, holds the rank of a special secretary – one notch below the full-fledged secretary. In other words, the current CBDT chairman, for example, is two batches senior to revenue secretary Sunil Mitra, a 1975 batch IAS, but in the rank he is junior to Mr Mitra.
Significantly, the relations between top taxmen of the country and former revenue secretary PV Bhide, a 1972 batch AP cadre IAS, reached all time low, particularly after the direct tax code was unveiled without consulting the CBDT board members. As the Code proposed to curtail the power of the taxmen by making them a mere a tax collecting entity, all IRS officers fought the battle in unity, and virtually paralyzed the idea originally mooted by former finance minister P Chidambaram and a handful of his key officers. But current finance minister Pranab Mukherjee agreed to the taxmen’s concerns, and the Code is unlikely to get featured in the forthcoming General Budget.
It now remains to be seen whether the country’s top taxmen succeed in converting CBDT into a full-fledged department in line with Indian Railways or India Post, but their recent targets in IAS officers’ premises have sent jitters through powerful administrators across the country who otherwise find their premises almost impregnable from all quarters including the tax hounds!
Action and Appointments
a) Prabeer Kumar Basu, a 1976 batch
Bihar cadre IAS has been appointed as secretary in the department of agriculture and cooperation in place of T Nanda Kumar, a 1972 batch Jharkhand cadre IAS who is retiring on February 28, 2010.
b) The appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC) has approved that SK Singh, A 1984 batch IPS may be relieved with effect from the receipt of orders.
c) The extension of tenure of Rajive Kumar, a 1981 batch UP cadre IAS and joint secretary in Cabinet Secretariat has been approved for a period of one year with effect from
March 13, 2010.
Young at 65! Planning Commission’s definition of “young professionals”