NEW DELHI: The Central Board of Direct Taxes’ (CBDT) vigilance department has red-flagged instances of political interference in appointment of tax officials. The warning came in the wake of a case involving Late Shiv Sena Supremo, Bala Saheb Thackeray.The 750-page vigilance department report said, “Among the seized data, a draft letter addressed to the then Minister of Finance recommending the name of Mr Sunil K Ojha, then posted as Additional Commissioner, Income Tax, Range VIII, Mumbai, for the post of Special Director of Enforcement Directorate is seen under the name of Thackeray. The phone numbers of Thackeray family members were also found on the company and there were few financial transactions as well which suggest that the letter originates from that background.”
An income tax raid on a private company on June 28, 2011, had thrown up a diary—‘2011’—which was buried deep by the investigators. The report recently submitted to the board reveals political influence exercised by the tax sleuths to secure coveted positions at the Centre besides tax evasion details of the company. Voluminous materials and documents—including electronic data from computers, laptops, mobiles and mail servers— were seized.CBDT has acknowledged that this is not the first time that its officers are exercising political influence in transfer and postings. On July 21, 2017, YD Sharma, Commissioner, Coordination, warned the officers for disciplinary action.
The Shiv Sena founder and one of the tallest leaders from Maharashtra, Thackeray breathed his last in November 2012. The CBDT recently ordered a further inquiry into the matter. The vigilance report has observed that substantial amount of cash was also given to the I-T officers by the private company but the entire matter was overlooked by the tax authorities, who conducted the search.
“Considering the substantial cash receipts and payments found entered in the name of the officer, need for a comprehensive enquiry from the point of disproportionate assets and even a possible angle of corruption may also arise. Since enquiry with non-official persons are needed to be carried out in order to establish the role of the officer and other issues having a bearing on integrity, the matter may be referred to the CBI for further enquiry,” the CBDT vigilance report further stated. “It has been observed that a number of IRS officers have been attempting to bring political or outside influence in connection with transfer and postings. I have been directed to request all such officers to avoid making any such attempts,” Sharma wrote, adding that the board may take action against such officers under the relevant conduct rules.