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Taxmen ask for formal direction to report for work

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 15, 2020 Published on April 15, 2020

Informal direction from seniors, sans specific reasons, puts officials at risk, says Association

Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers in the Income Tax Department do not want informal directions from higher-ups for attending offices without specifying essential activities and proper system in place during the nationwide lockdown.

The Home Ministry’s guidelines for activities to be carried during lockdown consider work in the Income Tax Department as essential. However, tax officials say they are facing problems from local law enforcement agencies, especially in cities other than cosmopolitans. They have grievance against their own superiors too.

In a letter to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Tuesday, the All India Indian Revenue Service Association said since the department works on a hierarchical operational platform, as a start therefore, “we would request immediate directions to the Cadre Controlling Authorities to desist from issuing informal directions to the field formations to attend office without specifying the essential activities they would perform proper and without comprehensive arrangements in place.”

“In a situation where we are regularly receiving news of even essential services personnel getting infected and a resultant cascading chain of human contacts being put at risk, asking our field offices to open, would not only be increasing their risk, but also placing additional burden on the Municipal, medical and other organisations working to contain the virus,” the letter said.

Risk of prosecution

The Association mentioned that since many of the States and districts have operational Epidemic Act provisions, curfews and other restrictions in force, I-T officials and employees who report for work would either have to be exempted by local authorities, or run the risk of prosecution under Section 55 of National Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Accordingly, it has urged the Board to issue clear instructions along with exemption from MHA to facilitate the same and specify the essential activities that are to be undertaken, as for instance in case of the customs officers, who have to necessarily man the border/check-posts because of the movement of essential material and equipment required for the fight against Covid-19.

Published on April 15, 2020

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