The Punjab excise and taxation department has unearthed a scam involving its inspectors and data entry operators who allegedly helped traders evade tax by changing the value or the particulars of the goods crossing the states borders.
According to department officials,an inquiry has shown that entries or transactions amounting to Rs 40 crore have been changed over the past three months by inspectors and data-entry operators at Information Collection Centres (ICC) set up at state barriers.
Confirming this,Anurag Verma,Excise & Taxation Commissioner,said that irregularities were detected when following some complaints an inquiry was conducted by additional commissioner S S Bangar.
Scrutiny of last years computer data revealed,in one instance,hosiery goods worth Rs 2.59 lakh entered at ICC railway station,Ludhiana,on June 6. However,it was allegedly shown as knitted cloth by departmental inspector Pawan Sood.
Sood cleared the goods but did not submit the entry into the computer records. Rather,he kept it pending and subsequently changed the commodity from hosiery goods to knitted cloth worth Rs1.46 lakh. Hosiery goods are taxable at the rate of 6.05 per cent whereas knitted cloth is a tax free item. On further scrutiny of record,it was found that Sood was in habit of indulging in such practice and over a period of last 3 months,he had changed around 30 such entries,amounting to approx. Rs1.10 crore, Verma said.
Sood was later suspended. Similarly,another inspector,Naresh Kumar,who too was found engaging in such malpractice,was transferred to Gurdaspur from the Shamboo ICC,Verma added.
He further said that 12 document clearance executives,engaged to assist staff at ICC barriers,were also found engaging in malpractices.
He said on October 10 last year,a truck passed ICC,Khanauri and an entry was made in the computer that auto parts worth about Rs14.60 lakh were loaded in it. However,on October 12,Ajay Kumar,a document clearance executive,changed the nature of goods from auto parts to waste yarn reducing its worth to Rs 1.80 lakh.
Autoparts are taxable at the rate of 14.30 per cent and waste yarn is taxable at the rate of 6.05 per cent.
Verma said apart from suspending the inspectors,the services of the 12 document clearance executives have been dispensed with. He has also asked additional commissioner SDS Dhillon to examine the possibility of lodging an FIR against the guilty officers and the traders who benefited from this malpractice.