Monday, May 23, 2016

MACP IN CPGRAMS...

In our previous blog, we had brought out the position and stand of the DoPT and its latest instruction dated 17.05.2016. Majority of the officers in our Cadre are unhappy because of lack of promotions, acute stagnation & financial embroilment and deliberate attempt by the Board to deny financial benefits under the MACP scheme. Whenever any eligible aggrieved officer approaches CAT or High Court, the benefit is extended only to that applicant and not to the similarly placed officers of the Cadre. Recently, in Whatsapp, the reply given to a grievance filed through CPGRAM by Mr Harpal Sing is in wide circulation. The same is reproduced below :-



 The method of CPGRAM appears to be a more viable, economical as well as prudent manner for getting our grievances redressed. Instead of approaching judiciary individually or in groups, which is tiresome and a costly affair and even after getting favourable orders, the same is not being implemented or gets referred to the Board for ratification, which incidentally never happens.
The approach of the Board varies from time to time on the same issue. CESA Mumbai, therefore, appeals to one and all, especially those who have been deprived of their MACP benefit of Rs.6,600/-, kindly represent to the Cadre Controlling Authority and wait for 30 days to get their reply. If the authority is not able to resolve your grievance, then escalate the matter by lodging the grievance through CPGRAM individually (http://pgportal.gov.in/).
Board is well aware of our MACP anomaly and showing no interest in resolving the same. Once CPGRAMs on a similar issue from a single Department gets lodged enmasse, then the Board may be compelled to take a view on the grant of Rs.6,600/- to those officers who have been deprieved the benefit, because of wrong interpretation on the part of Pr.CCA, New Delhi. This is because of the fact that enmasse CPGRAMs will be reaching to the PMO office who is directly monitoring the replies given to CPGRAMs.
Lets hope that the good sense will prevail and the benefits will be extended as per the spirit of the MACP scheme...
More in the next blog...
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

FROM CESA'S DESK...


Transfers & Postings : There is rising anxiety among the officers about the annual general transfer (IZT/ICT). The delegation of CESA-Mumbai met the CC, Central Excise Zone-I and Service Tax Zone and were requested to convene a meeting for carrying out minor amendments to the Transfer & Posting Policy for more clarity and smooth implementation. About the officers posted on loan basis, it is learnt that the jurisdiction of CCA, Mumbai, as allocated by the Board, vide its letter dated 09-Sep-2014, for posting officers on loan basis is only for DGRI, DGCEI, DGICCE, DG(Audit), CESTAT, NACEN, DG(Systems), DGST, DG(Valuation), DG(Vigilance) and TAR(now renamed as DGTS). Total 92 Supdts., 128 Inspectors. However, several officers of Mumbai cadre are posted on loan basis beyond the prescribed formations when Mumbai zone is facing acute shortage of staff in both the cadres, i.e. Inspectors and Supdt. Hence, CESA-Mumbai suggests that officers posted out of Mumbai be brought back and the tenure of loan posting be reduced to one year and while posting the officers to the above mentioned organizations, a policy may be framed.
Officers are requested to submit their representations for change of Zones/Commissionerates etc., through proper channel at the earliest.
Joint meeting with both the CC of CX Zones and ST Zone, along-with the staff associations, is likely to be scheduled at the end of May-2016 for making minor amendments to the Transfer & Posting policy. Thus, the AGT is likely to be issued in the 2nd week of June-2016. The representation of CESA-Mumbai is annexed.
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  Ref: CESA/15/2016
Date: 18-May-2016.
To,
The Hon’ble Chief Commissioner,
Central Excise, Mumbai Zone-I.

Respected Sir,
Sub : Request for amending the Transfer & Posting policy of Grp-B Gazetted & Non-gazetted officers – Reg.
CESA, Mumbai, expresses its gratitude for granting us an audience on 17-May-2016 in this regard.  In continuation to the above, as apprised, to bring more clarity and for the smooth implementation of IZT/ICT, CESA-Mumbai suggests the following minor amendments to the existing transfer & posting policy.
a)   Computation of Tenure is to be taken on Order-to-Order basis, ie. ICT to ICT & AGT to AGT.
b)   The tenure in an Audit Commissionerate is to be 2 years, i.e. in Central Excise Audit / Service Tax Audit / LTU-Audit.
c)   The tenure in a Commissionerate should be equally divided between HQ, Division & Range, (i.e. all postings should not exceed 1 year) except when posted to Anti-evasion/Preventive section, where the tenure will be maximum of 2 years. Similarly, in Service Tax, the officer should be rotated annually between HQ, Division & Circle, except when posted to Anti-evasion/Preventive section, where the tenure will be maximum of 2 years.
d)   Officers attaining the age of 57 years should not be posted to LTU-Mumbai/LTU-Audit.
e)   The officers of Central Excise Zone-I & II, on completion of their tenure in ST Zone, should be posted to a Central Excise Zone on the basis of their request/option.
f)    As on date, we are facing an acute shortage of staff in all the cadres and formations, hence, loan postings apart from the prescribed CCA Zone should not be entertained.  All those officers who have been posted out on loan basis of our CCA Zone should be brought back.
g)   All officers on deputation to DRI/DGCEI etc., who have completed their tenure and subsequent extensions granted to them, should be repatriated without any exceptions.
Apart from the above, in this regard, there may be other issues also. Hence a joint meeting with all the Mumbai Zonal CCs & the Inspectors Association may be convened at your convenience. CESA, Mumbai, will extend it the maximum support in this matter.
Thanking you,
               Yours sincerely,
               A.K. SASMAL
                General Secretary

Copy to : Chief Commissioner, Mumbai Service Tax Zone – For kind information & also request to instruct the Administration to provide the data of the officers to CCA for issuance of IZT/ICT on time.
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MACP – Mumbai cadre controlling authority issued MACP orders bearing no. 52 to 57/2016 dated 11.05.2016 for all the cadres i.e. Inspector, Superintendent and Administrative Officers for 10, 20 & 30 years. In the said order names of several officers have not appeared as the respective Administrations have failed to submit the requisite data to the Cadre Control Authority. However, the Cadre Control has agreed to hold another SCM within one month for considering the left out cases as well as cover all the officers who have completed 10, 20 & 30 years of regular service upto 31.03.2017. Officers are requested to ensure that their names are included in the reports sent by their Commissionerates.
Anomalies in grant of MACP :   On the issue of grant of 3rd financial up-gradation under the MACP, the DoPT has rejected the Ministry’s contention of extension of benefits to all similarly placed officers as per the decision of the Hon’ble Chennai High Court in the case of Shri R. Chandrashekaran. The High Court had directed DoPT to formulate a policy on the issue and the same has been finalised by the DoPT. The Ministry has once again referred the matter to DoPT since they have accepted the grant to Shri R. Chandrashekaran but not to other similarly placed officers. The matter is pending before the DoPT. DoPT has taken nearly a year to decide on the issue.
Many of the affected officers had gone before the Hon’ble Tribunal for implementing the decision of the DoPT in the case of Shri R. Chandrashekaran and obtained orders in their favour. The same is pending implementation because of want of clarification from the Ministry.
The stand of DoPT has varied over time depending on the severity of the austerity measures in place and their decisions are not based on the merit and contrary to the spirit of the scheme.
The Ministry will now have to approach the Chennai High Court in the matter and place before them the decision of the DoPT so that the Chennai High Court can decide on the matter.
As regards to the Kolkatta CAT decision dated 28.04.2016 in OA No. 351/00195/2014, the DoPT very promptly issued OM dated 17.05.2016 denying the benefits of grant of MACP benefits on hierarchical promotional posts.
However, an earlier matter is pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court wherein the Apex Court has granted stay on the decision of the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala.
The issue of MACP is becoming a bone of contention rather than grant of benefits. Officers are being forced to go for litigations by spending money, time and energy keeping their own work aside. As the senior officers are not affected by the said anomaly, they are least bothered, otherwise by holding a Board Meeting, the issue could have been sorted out and the staff would have benefited and there would not be recovery from the retiring officers.

AGT of Commissioners/Principal Commissioners : The Board has already issued AGT orders of AC/DC and JC/ADC last week. The AGT orders for Commissioners and Principal Commissioners is likely to be issued tomorrow.
Visit of Chairman to Mumbai : The Chairman, Shri Najib Shah is scheduled to visit Mumbai.  On 21-May-2016, he will be releasing a Survey Report on air passengers, prepared by Welingkar Institute, Mumbai, at the in-house auditorium, Customs House, Mumbai. He will also be addressing the senior officers of the Department.
More in the next blog...
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DELHI TO DAULATABAD…


 
Shocking incidents and knee-jerk action taken by the Customs authority on the basis of an old clip which went viral on Facebook, the Customs head at Mumbai not only suspended the officers but on 13-May-2016, also removed the chairs from the Arrival hall of CSI Airport, Mumbai.

This news was covered by many of Mumbai’s tabloids. It is surprising that not even a single Grp-A officer raised their voice against this inhuman & arbitrary order. When this news also went viral and the concerned Associations raised their voice, then the Administration was forced to take a u-turn and on the 17-May-2016, brought back all the chairs that were removed from the customs arrival area. The trauma / stigma / frustrations undergone by the Customs Officers who were on duty from 13th to 17th must have been the worst period of their career and many may not be able to forget the same.

Height of arrogance of the concerned pax, who has declared that he is in complete favour of the  decision to restrict AIU officers from the arrival hall… The moot question is – are the passengers going to determine the policies in Custom formations ? On the other hand – why blame the passengers – all of them would like to walk out through the green channel, irrespective of what they are carrying, whether permissible or otherwise, without being questioned or stopped by any Customs officer !!! Thus, it appears that the senior officers are at fault, who are unable to defend any bonafide action taken by their subordinate officers, in the discharge of their official duties.

The incident appears to be high-handedness and could have been handled in a better and humane manner. It is learnt from newspaper reports that this step was taken to restrain officers of AIU from being present in the Arrival hall of the airport and to punish the officers for checking a person who was close to the senior customs officer. Officers posted to the airport are meant to check smuggling and mis-declarations by pax – this can be done only through x-raying the baggage and frisking the passenger – mere appearance is not indicative if the pax is a bonafide one or a smuggler. Smuggling of gold by air passengers is at its peak and instead of having stringent mechanisms to check this, such type of decisions/action only demoralize the officers and encourage the wrongdoers.

Number of incoming passengers at Mumbai Airport is very high and the image portrayed by the media has definitely damaged the reputation of the Customs internationally. Ego of a single person, coupled with misuse of power, gives rise to such type of incidents, which dent the image of the country in general and Customs in particular. Who is responsible for this damage ?

Earlier also, a senior officer was charged for allegedly facilitating the clearance of smugglers whose relative is a lawyer/counsel for the cases booked by customs. However, he is still continuing at his post without any visible action being taken against him and two junior officers were shunted out.

In the instant case, on the basis of a video clip, an officer is suspended and action is taken at lightning speed, whereas, when the allegation of running a syndicate causing loss of hundreds of Crores to the exchequer, no action is taken as he is a senior officer. Is this not a case of double standards…
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Monday, May 9, 2016

BIG LOSS...


 
 
 

Shri Gautam Bhattacharya, Principal Commissioner of Service Tax, Pune, lost his 17 days struggle and passed away yesterday evening.
Shri Bhattacharya belongs to 1985 batch of IRS officers and in the last AGT was posted to Pune ST from TRU, New Delhi. He was instrumental in bringing several changes in ST law and keen to redress the trade grievances for smooth implementation of ST laws. He was also a very down to earth person and having no ego and was accessible to everybody without the need of an official appointment. He was possessing a cool and compassionate nature. He was staying alone in Pune and his family was at Delhi. He always focused on getting the work done and provided a conducive atmosphere to his staff to work and never used to stress out his subordinates inspite of the tremendous work pressure.
His body will be brought to Hertiage Guest House in ICE House, Pune, at around 2 pm, for paying of last respects. Thereafter it will be taken to Koregaon Park crematorium at around 4 pm for performance of final rites.  
His sad demise is a great loss to the Department and his skills & knowledge in ST laws will be sorely missed especially at the time of implementation of the upcoming GST and this vacuum can never be filled.
 
CESA Mumbai expresses its heartfelt condolences and prays to the Almighty to give strength to the grieving family members to bear this great loss.
 
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Friday, May 6, 2016

TAXES ARE DROPPED...INDIVIDUALS ARE ENRICHED


For our development we have taken loan from the World Bank. It is not new. Recently World Bank has committed to provide Rs. 5,000 Crores for a water conservation project for the drought affected villages of Vidarbha and Marathwada. We feel ashamed that under different pretexts, sometimes in the name of education, poverty alleviation, mal-nutrition, infrastructure, etc., we have been taking maximum number of loans from the World Bank. The amounts are in thousands of crores. Now the collections of Service Tax is increasing every year. But we seem to be less concerned about the leakage and pilferage.
CESA-Mumbai in our earlier articles have brought out instances of judicial inconsistency and/or judicial indiscipline.
Another issue is as under :-
On the basis of intelligence, the Anti-Evasion wing of the erstwhile Mumbai Service Tax-II Commissionerate, booked a case of service tax evasion against M/s. Supreme Infrastructure India Ltd., wherein it was noticed that the assessee was collecting service tax from their customers but were not depositing the same to the Govt. account since July 2008. After investigations, a Show Cause Notice of Rs. 350.84 Crores for the period 2008-09 to 2012-13 was issued to the company bearing F No.V/ST-II/HQ/AE/ENQ/Gr 6/11/2013 dated 22.10.2013. The same was issued by Shri R Sekar the then Commissioner, Service Tax-II, Mumbai.
The matter was taken up for adjudication on priority basis, violating the normal FIFO method. The matter was adjudicated vide OIO No 40/ST-II/RS/2014 on 23.05.2014, i.e. within 7 months from date of issuance of SCN, by the same Shri R Sekar, while many other SCNs were pending for years together. Vide his said Order in Original Shri Sekar confirmed only Rs. 36.93 Crores of Service tax and disallowed cenvat credit of Rs. 9.13 Crores ( totally amounting to Rs. 46.06 Crores, i.e. 13.13% of the Demand raised by him only in the said SCN). Shri R Sekar, who issued the SCN demanding Rs. 350.84 Crores of service tax after detailed investigations, but at the time of adjudication within 7 months, decided and amazingly dropped the demand of almost Rs.300 Crores of service tax.
At the time of issuance of the SCN, he has not only transferred the concerned Superintendents several times but also moved the file through those officers who were willing to toe his line. During the relevant time a middleman was constantly visible in the 4th Floor having a “Nawabi” access to the cabin of Shri Sekar. After the disposal of the case and dropping of the amount of Rs. 300 Crores, the said linkman vanished into thin air.
As the linkman went missing, the second SCN of the same Noticee bearing No. ST-II/Div-VI/SCN/AE/Supreme Infra/2013 dtd 22.11.2014 amounting to Rs. 74.94 Crores issued by Shri R Sekar is still pending for adjudication.
When the entire country has been facing severe drought conditions, and approaching the World Bank for loans, we have officers who are oblivious of this and are only interested in their own interests and making the exchequer dry & dry...
After receiving numerous complaints against Sri Sekar, the CVC did not find him fit for being posted as Member(T), but found him fit to be has posted him as AR in Mumbai CESTAT, where he is supposed to defend the appeals filed by the Department which were originally dropped by him !!
Isn’t there anyone in the Dept. who is upright enough to rein in and check such type of greedy officers ? At the fag end of his career, the Board also seems to be in generous mood to offer him a peaceful retirement, but at what cost ? Many of the Commissionerates in India may have Rs.300 Crores as their annual target, but in one go, the said amount is dropped and nobody in the Board bats an eyelid…
The slogan ‘When taxes are paid, the nation is made’ but in the instant case, the slogan appears to be more like ‘individuals are enriched when taxes are dropped’ and when nobody reins them in, they are emboldened further and further…
CESA-Mumbai does not intend to comment upon the legality and/or on the merits of the case. But the acts of commission, like transferring the investigating officers, not picking up of SCN in FIFO method, free access and visibility of linkman and consequently dropping of a huge amount of Service Tax by one and the same Authority really arouses suspicion.
The junior officers during his tenure were badly harassed by him for supposedly not working in the interests of revenue but it appears that they were actually harassed & victimised for being an hindrance to his vested interests. 
This case adds to the general perception that in the case of senior officers, no action is taken against them because it is processed through them and decided by them. Unless a whistle blower is bent upon pursuing a case, it appears that in all other cases, the erring officer gets away scot free.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

FROM CESA'S DESK...




Breaking news :- Chief Justice Khandvilkar, head of the Principal Bench of MP High Court has delivered a judgement that there will be no reservation in promotion and that all promotions granted through reservation to be made null and void. Reservation is available only at the time of appointment, not for promotions and disposed the petition filed by a state govt. employee.
Delhi High Court :- Prakash Sangwan Vs. UOI & others – Double bench of the the Delhi High Court has disposed off the petition stating that it appears that there is some urgency in the matter (non-holding of DPC from Grp-B to Grp-A on account of reservations) and the Tribunal may examine the said contention.
Delhi Principal CAT :- All 6 cases pertaining to reservations at the time of promotions, are listed for hearing, high on board, on 03-May-2016 (i.e. today). Arguments were heard today and will continue tomorrow.
Preparation of panel for deputation to CSI Airport :-  Selection through interview for the preparation of panel of officers (Inspectors & Superintendents) to be posted to CSI Airport on deputation for a period of 2 years, is scheduled to be held on 05-May-2016.
IZT / ICT / AGT – 2016 :- Compilation of all officers data is in process, which may take some time. The cut-off date is taken as order to order, i.e. AGT-2011, who have completed 5 years in CEX/ST zone will be rotated. Meeting with the Administration for minor amendments is to be scheduled shortly.
Promotion in Mumbai Zone :- DEO Vs. UOI in Mumbai CAT, which was listed for final hearing today, the 03-May-2016, but unfortunately it has been adjourned to 24-June-2016.
Shifting of HQ of Mumbai ST-VII :- some Divisions & HQ of ST-VII is being shifted to Satra Plaza at Vashi, Navi Mumbai. The process may take some time before the Divisions & HQ become fully operational at the new premises.
Premises for ST-V & ST-VI :- Administration is short-listing new premises for preparing a proposal for HQ and some of the Divisions, preferably within their own jurisdictional georgraphical area.

Meeting with FM :- The delegation of Promotee IRS Officer's Association met Hon'ble FM on 28-Apr-2016 and represented about the acute stagnation of Grp-B cadre and the continuing discrimination to the newly promoted Grp-A officers and humiliation in posting at field level. They have also made strong representations about the newly notified Grp-A RRs. The Hon'ble FM has assured the delegation that the representation will be considered strongly.  
Sad Demise :- Supdt. B. P. Rudrawar residing at Kalwa and posted in Tech-III of Powai Division, Mumbai-II Commissionerate, Mumbai CX Zone-II, suffered a massive heart attack & passed away. Final rites are to be carried out at his native village near Nanded. CESA Mumbai expresses its heartfelt condolences and prays to the Almighty to give strength to the grieving family members to bear this great loss.
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

CHOICE...NO...... RAISE THE VOICE...



Recently, the emotional outbreak of the CJI T S Thakur at the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts in Delhi, shocked not only the members on the dais but also the dignitaries attending the function. Even the viewers who saw the same on television were also dumbstruck. Many Chief Justices of India may come and go but this visual will always be imprinted on our minds, not only for the emotions displayed but also for the reason that he was the person who raised his voice and expressed his concern about the inaction by the Govt., thereby showing his commitment as assigned by the Govt. and as expected by the citizens of this country.
In our own Board, the situation is more or less comparable, if not worse, to the Judicial system in the country. We also expect that our Chairman should raise his voice about the dismal situation, especially in human resource management, shortage/lack of proper infrastructure and lack of career progression of officers, which are adversely affecting the morale of the officers and thereby affecting the organization as a whole. Being a revenue generating organization, everybody is happy with the year-on-year increase in the monies collected, but nobody seems to be bothered or concerned about the revenue leakage, that is taking place primarily due to short staffing and secondly either through non-compliance or through compromise and sometimes both.
Cadre restructuring has taken place, but till to date, the benefits for the staff has not been implemented – vacancies are pending at all levels, officers are retiring with only one promotion in their 35 or more years of service in the Department, which demoralize the staff from top to bottom and the sense of alienation is increasing day by day.
 
In the zone there is no Chief Commissioner and all Principal Commissioners, who are holding the additional charge of Chief Commissioners of their zones, are powerless to act / take action against Commissioners in their zones, as many a times, they happen to be his/her own batch-mates !! Similar is the situation of the officers from ADC to AC holding several additional charges and are somehow managing the show in a ritualistic manner. As compared to the CBDT, and other boards in other ministries, we appear to be lagging far behind in all respects.  
 
Being a revenue generating Board, all eyes are trained on us, gauging our performance, exhorting us to improve the collections, but seem to be least concerned about the ground realities and functional difficulties/deficiencies faced by the officers at all levels.

Infrastructure-wise, Mumbai, which tops the revenue collections charts, still has many Service Tax Commissionerates which do not have their own premises and are functioning from as & where basis. There is serious shortage of residential accommodations for staff at all levels. There is a severe shortage of funds under all heads, especially under OE, because of which the phones, internet and electricity bills remain unpaid from Nov-Dec of a financial year and get carried forward for the next financial year, which has now become a vicious circle, every year.  Medical claims are pending since 2013-14 and officers are taking loans from financial institutes to meet their medical expenditures.


ACES in Service Tax and Central Excise is operational but not functional, therefore the least said is better. Board is unable to get funds for upgrading the ACES infrastructure especially its connectivity in the new premises, acquired after cadre restructuring.
 
 
Corruptions at lower level – actions are visible whereas corruption at high places goes on unchecked and unabated. Those who are not towing to their line, are victimized or sidelined.

Hon’ble judiciary has the authourity to take action on those who do not obey their orders, but in our place, rules & methods are decided depending on the person's position & rank and their interests, rather than in the interest of the organization.

Will the esteemed Chairman of the CBEC, who is known for his honesty and dynamism, dare, like the Hon’ble CJI, to raise the issues facing the Department, before the FM / PM whenever any opportunity arises like above ?

CESA Mumbai humbly submits the following points to be raised on an urgent basis :-

a) Several DPCs are to be held, decisions are to be taken and all the vacant posts required to be filled up so that the stagnating employees will be motivated.

b) Several infrastructure related projects, like renting/constructing of new office premises needs time-bound decisions and to make the necessary funds available for the completion of the project to avoid cost escalations and requirements.

c) Sufficient funds for medical claims should be made available at the zonal level to meet the medical exigencies of the staff.

d) Funds for OE so that the organization should not become a defaulter and have to beg before another Department, like MTNL/Electricity Board to continue their services without interruption even though the bill is pending for payment.

e) Last but not the least, Justice Goda Raghuram, retired as the President of CESTAT on 14-Mar-2016. The roster for allocation of work among the members is made upto the 29-Apr-2016. In the absence of a President, all the six newly joined Members(T) are sitting without work and this non-allocation of work is increasing the pendency in CESTAT, which is currently having 9 to 10 years of backlog in cases.

There are many officers in the Department who are shedding tears for the way the Department is being run, the lack of fair promotion avenues, the lack of will in the Administration in conducting DPCs even when vacancies are existing, etc. Unfortunately, there is nobody to see these tears being shed and no one who raises their fingers to wipe away these tears...What a tragedy...

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