Revenue secretary meddles in CBDT transfers

Sparks are expected to fly again as the placement committee of the Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) of the Income Tax Department meets on Friday to take up the matter of countrywide transfer of its 33 commissioners. Sources in the finance ministry say that a problem has arisen as the committee has been expanded on the insistence of the ministry to include joint secretary (administration) on the panel.

About three years back, the CBDT had got an approval from the ministry to have no interference from the North Block in the transfers and postings within the department. The composition of the placement committee was decided upon and it included the chairperson of the CBDT and two senior-most members of the board. However, this year, the sources said, a nominee of the ministry has been included in the committee at the insistence of the revenue secretary R S Gujral.

The sources said that during the committee meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, the CBDT members K Madhvan Nair and S C Jaini reportedly walked out protesting the expansion of the committee and a lack of transparency in deciding the transfer list. Nair is believed to have asked for a list of commissioners, stating whether they were due for transfer or not. The members insisted that the transfers could only be discussed when there was clarity on whether the names in the list were due for transfer or not.

The ministry sources said that the CBDT chairman Laxman Das refused to share the list with other members. The list is a property of the personnel department, which functions under Das. 'If the split in the placement committee persists, the ministry [read the revenue secretary Gujral] would have its way in the matter of transfers. If the panel had not been expanded, transfers would have remained insulated from the influence of the ministry,' sources added.
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