12 top tax officials told to retire amid allegations of Corruption, Sexual harassment

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NEW DELHI: Twelve officials of the Union Ministry of Finance have been forced into compulsory retirement — the allegations against them range from extortion to bribery and sexual harassment, a circular from the government read. Eight of them are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation on serious corruption charges.

This is the first time the government is taking such a move against so many officials accused of corruption and malpractice.

The 12, all from the Indian Revenue Services (IRS), included seven commissioners – one of the top most ranks in the Income Tax department; one joint commissioner, three additional commissioners, and an assistant commissioner.

“This is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion, ‘na khaunga na khane dunga’ [will neither steal, nor allow anyone else to] and a strong message has been sent in the system to shun corrupt practices at all levels immediately,” said a government official aware of the specifics of the crackdown, asking not to be named.

The orders were issued against: joint commissioner of income-tax Ashok Kumar Aggarwal (civil code 85042), commissioner Sanjay Kumar Srivastava (87052), commissioner Alok Kumar Mitra (92030), commissioner Arulappa B (90116), commissioner Ajoy Kumar Singh (87067), commissioner BB Rajendra Prasad (92092), commissioner Homi Rajvansh (85043), commissioner Swetabh Suman (88078), additional commissioner Andasu Ravindar (91110), additional commissioner Vivek Batra (92075), additional commissioner Chander Sain Bharti (94086) and assistant commissioner Ram Kumar Bhargava (145FF),

Ashok Agarwal, Joint Commissioner of I-T and former Deputy Director of Enforcement Directorate, had been suspended from 1999 to 2014. The official faced allegations of corruption and extortion from businessmen accused of helping Chandraswami, the hugely controversial self-proclaimed godman who the Central Bureau of Investigation accused of having assets worth more than 12 crore disproportionate to his income.

SK Srivastava, a Revenue Service official of the 1989 batch, was accused of sexually harassing two women officials.

He allegedly accused them of corruption and prostitution and evasion of taxes and had a petition filed through a former Member of Parliament, Jai Narayan Nishad.

The government dossier says he has been prolonging the conclusion of departmental inquiry cases for the last 10 years by filing as many as 75 petitions in Central Administrative Tribunal, the High Court and Supreme Court. He has also approached the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) to defer the cases of promotion of his batch mates and his juniors. As a result, promotion of three batches has been held up for the last two to three years, the dossier read.
In as many as eight cases, high courts and CAT have passed strictures and warning and imposed fines for his allegations against the women officers and other higher officers. He was given civil imprisonment of 15 days for his allegations against former chairman and members of Central Board of Direct Taxes.
Homi Rajvansh, another Revenue Service official acquired movable and immovable assets worth Rs. 3.17 crore allegedly through corrupt means. He was arrested and suspended and has allegedly delayed the finalisation of disciplinary proceedings for a decade through litigation and raising technical and procedural issues.
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