Crackdown: Government retires 22 tax officials on charges of corruption

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has given marching orders to 22 more officials facing probe on corruption charges, in keeping with the Narendra Modi government These officials were serving as superintendents\/assessing officials in the indirect tax department and were facing investigations from various enforcement agencies. In June, the government had invoked Fundamental Rule 56(J) of the Central Civil Services Rules to force retirement of 27 Indian Revenue Services (IRS) officials. Under the Rule 56 (j), the performance of an officer who has turned 50 or 55 years of age or has completed 30 years of service, whichever is earlier, is being reviewed to ascertain if he\/she is liable for compulsory retirement. Of the 22 officials now being sent to retirement, seven belong to the Bhopal zone and are accused of conniving with a tobacco company to help it evade excise duty to the tune of nearly Rs 30 crore. Two other Bhopal zone officials have also been retired, where one of them is accused by CBI of soliciting bribes while the other has been found involved in an illegal import racket by the Central excise department. Among those faced action, two officials belonged to Nagpur zone and one each to Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata and Meerut zones. Two officials each from Jaipur and Mumbai zones and one from Chandigarh zones have also been relieved of their services, sources said. Though 56(j) has existed for several decades, it has sparingly been invoked; the first Modi government made an attempt to make use of this rule but even it could get only about 230 officers to leave government service before their scheduled superannuation on grounds of non-performance\/lack of integrity. After the recent criticism of the government over harassment perpetrated by tax officials, the prime minister in his recent Independence Day address said that some black sheep in the tax administration may have misused their powers but the government won