Govt to have ombudsman for indirect taxes; four names shortlisted

Shishir Sinha | | Updated on: Sep 18, 2011

In a novel initiative, the Government is all set to appoint an ombudsman for indirect taxes. The Finance Ministry has forwarded four names to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister.

The four candidates are Mr Sumit Dutt Majumdar for Delhi, Ms Lalitha John for Bangalore, Mr H.K. Sharan for Mumbai and Mr Rajendra Prakash for Lucknow. A panel headed by the Finance Secretary, Mr R.K. Gujaral, who is also Revenue Secretary, shortlisted the names, which were then approved by the Finance Minister.

The intention is to appoint seven ombudsmen all over the country. The panel rejected one name on the grounds of an ongoing investigation against the candidate, sources added. Eyebrows have also been raised regarding the candidature of Mr Sharan and Mr Prakash as there were some vigilance cases against them.

However, the Finance Ministry has justified the selection process. In a detailed response, the Department of Revenue has said that the selection committee, in its meeting on August 29, considered the reports of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Director General (Vigilance), CBEC. As both the wings had given clearance to these two officers, their names were shortlisted, the Department added.

The Department disclosed that a complaint against Mr H.K. Sharan was received through the CVC in February, 2008. The vigilance wing of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) conducted internal enquiries regarding certain procedural irregularities pointed out in the implementation of Central Excise exemption notification relating to the North-East. It was observed that there was no vigilance issue involved. The CVC agreed with the Department's view and advised for closure of the case on May 20, 2010.

The Department further added that the CVC had also given clearance in respect of Mr Sharan when he was being considered for the post of Member in CBEC for 2009-10. Though he was empanelled, he could not be appointed because he didn't have enough residual service left.

The Department said that an allegation against Mr Prakash was investigated by the CBI. Subsequently, on investigation, the lapses were found to be of a technical nature and the Department recommended closure of the case against him. The CVC concurred with the recommendations of the Department and the case was closed.

All efforts to get a response from Mr Sharan and Mr Prakash failed.


Published on September 18, 2011
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