THE Central government has reiterated the measures being undertaken to curb malpractices regarding Leave Travel Concession (LTC) after it was noticed that some government servants colluded with private travel agents to submit LTC claims with inflated airfare to clandestinely obtain undue benefits such as free boarding, lodging, transport or cash refunds etc. The government has now issued an office memorandum giving a detailed guideline to be followed. “As per instructions reiterated from time to time, in all cases whenever a Govt. servant claims LTC by air, he/she is required to…book the air tickets either directly through the airlines (Booking counters, website of airlines) or by utilizing the service of authorized travel agents viz. 'M/s Balmer Lawrie and Company', 'M/s Ashok Travels and Tours' and ‘IRCTC’”, the office memorandum said.
But the government has found instances in which the government servants failed to book the tickets from these designated places, and later ministries or departments ended up giving representations for relaxations of norms “on the plea that the government servant was not aware of this requirement”.
Now, the DoPT has become stringent in following rules and said in the above-said Office Memorandum that “Plea of ignorance of the instructions therefore cannot be used by such Government servants.”
The government has also decided that in accordance with the canons of financial propriety, “Government servants should purchase tickets at the lowest rate available at the time of booking for the date and time of scheduled journey”. Further, it is said in the office memorandum that “Government servant will be required to submit the printout of the tickets showing date and time of booking in addition to the fare charged”. In cases of cancellation or rescheduling, the employee has to bear the refund fee as applicable unless the journey had to be rescheduled or cancelled due to exigencies of office work.
To make the system more stringent, government servants now need to submit a self-certificate on a plain paper as follows:
1) I certify that the airfare claimed by me is in respect of the fare charged by the Airline for the air journey only and does not include any charges for any facility/undue benefit including boarding/lodging/local transport.
2) I also certify that I have booked the ticket at the lowest fare available for the destination at the time of booking for the scheduled date and time of departure. I am aware that suppression of any information or furnishing wrong information will render me liable to disciplinary action.
The administrative ministries or departments have also been instructed to undertake random checks from airlines whether the tickets were booked at the lowest fare available on that date. The ministries and departments are also reminded that Rule 3(1)(i) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 requires the government servants to maintain absolute integrity at all times. In addition, cheating/fraud also attract various sections of the Indian Penal Code 1860. “Ministries/departments should therefore not hesitate to take severe action against employees guilty of deliberate malpractices, particularly in collusion with travel agents etc”, the office memorandum added.