Gearing up for Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout from July 1, the revenue department has recommended a proposal for provisional and ad-hoc promotion of 116 IRS (Customs and Central Excise) officers to the commissioner grade to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
In a meeting of the Departmental Promotion Committee held on April 5 for ad-hoc promotions of officers from 1993 to 1996 batches, the revenue department has recommended clearing backlog of promotions for 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17. The move follows protests and letters written by the IRS Association in last few months. Various IRS officers associations had expressed reservations about smooth rollout of GST earlier this year, asking the government to revisit some of the decisions of the GST Council pertaining to division of administrative control between states and the Centre. The move to clear the backlog of ad-hoc promotions is being seen as an attempt to placate the officers before the rollout of the indirect tax regime.
The revenue department is of the view that it is extremely essential to have commissioners in position well before the rollout date to ensure smooth implementation. The revenue department had vacancy of 123 commissioner-level officers in last three years, out of which 20 vacancies were for 2014-15, which rose to 93 in the following year and were recorded to be 10 in 2016-17. The regularisation of ad-hoc promotions of officers of Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) of 1988-1993 batches is underway.
The Departmental Promotion Committee is required to be chaired by the UPSC. However, it has disassociated itself from considering cases of ad-hoc promotions, so the meeting last month was chaired by revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. In absence of an integrated seniority list of Group A officers in CBEC and pending litigations in courts, the department has been holding meetings of Departmental Promotion Committee for ad-hoc promotions.
In its interim order on April 5 last year in an ongoing litigation, the Allahabad High Court had opined that the central government will redraw the revised seniority list as per the directions of the tribunal and had directed the government to not make any ad-hoc promotion.