In efficiency push, CBEC to put senior officers’ performance under the lens

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018

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Can lead to pre-mature retirement too

Nudged by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has decided to review the performance of each Group ‘A’ officer aged 50 years or above. Based on the review, a decision could be taken on his/her pre-mature retirement.

“Probably for the first time in recent years, the provision in service rules related with a kind of compulsory retirement is being invoked. This is after many instances of corruption and alleged inefficiencies,” a senior government official told BusinessLine, adding that the intention is to make the system much more efficient.

Under the Fundamental Rules (FR) and Central Civil Services or CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972, there is a provision to ascertain whether the government servant should be retained in service or be pre-maturely retired in public interest.

The CBEC is an indirect tax body responsible for policy formulation and collection of customs, Central excise duties and service tax.

Screening panel

A CBEC office order, dated August 14, announced the decision to constitute a four-member screening committee headed by the CBEC Chairman for “preparing a comprehensive brief on each officer, for being placed before the Review Committee and to assist the Review Committee in reviewing the cases for pre mature retirement of the Custom and Central Excise officers in Group ‘A’ under FR 56(J), FR 56(i) and Rules 48(1)(b) of CCS Pension Rules, 1972.” Another board order talks about constitution of a review committee, representation committee and the screening committee immediately.

FR 56(J) covers Group ‘A & B’ officers who entered service before 35 years of age and have attained 50 years of age. Rules 48(1)(b) of CCS Pension Rules, 1972 covers all government servants who have completed 30 years of service. All these rules prescribe pre-mature retirement after giving a three-month notice or pay allowance in lieu thereof.

The rules also prescribe formation of a committee to recommend pre-mature retirement on the basis of certain criterion that mainly includes two things — when integrity is under doubt, and when an employee is found to be ineffective (neither fit nor competent).

In fact, according to an office memorandum (OM) issued last year by the Department of Personnel and Training: “The damage to public interest could be marginal if an old employee, in the last year of service, is found ineffective; but the damage may be incalculable if he is found corrupt and demands or obtains illegal gratification during the said period for the tasks he is duty bound to perform.”

According to the OM, the Supreme Court had not only upheld the validity of FR 56(j) but also held that no show-cause notice need be issued to any government servant before a notice of retirement is issued to him under such rules. However, as a matter of precaution, the Court also advised that the decision of retirement should not be arbitrary or should not be based on collateral grounds.

Published on August 17, 2015

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