IN A letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday objected to the Centre’s move to deploy CRPF personnel for providing security to income-tax officials during search operations in the state, and demanded that the decision be immediately revoked.
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The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) under the Union Finance Ministry had requested the Union Home Ministry to provide 15 CRPF personnel to assist I-T officials in carrying out search and seizure operations in Kolkata. The request received the ministry’s nod on December 20.
On Thursday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) — following inputs from the I-T department — had raided six premises, including five jewellery stores, in Kolkata and Baranagar on charges that bullion traders had converted black money into white by manipulating account books. However, CRPF personnel were not present in any of the raids.
Mamata, in her letter, wrote: “It has come to our knowledge that the Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to deploy 15 CRPF personnel for apparently providing security to income-tax officials for operations in Bengal. No communication in this regard has been received by the state government and hence, we strongly oppose the decision.”
Describing the decision as “unconstitutional, illegal and against all principles of cooperative federalism” in the one-page letter, she said: “Deployment of any central police force to any state can only be done at the request of state government… The decision must be immediately revoked… The state government and police forces would provide all necessary help and protection if so requested by any central government agency for any legitimate action on their part.”
“Respective legislative and executive jurisdictions of the state governments and the central governments are clearly delineated in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, and public order and police are within the domain of List II (state list),” the letter added. A copy of the same has also been sent to the chief ministers of all states.
Slamming the Centre, Trinamool Congress secretary general and minister Partha Chatterjee said, “They are not even informing the chief minister, who is also the home minister. They have resorted to political hooliganism.”
The investigation wing of the I-T department, meanwhile, said the deployment of CRPF personnel during searches was done as per the law. “The number of search operations being carried out now have increased manifold, and this is why we are taking help of CRPF personnel,” a senior official of the I-T investigation wing said.
To a query, he said the investigation wing was also getting cooperation from the West Bengal Police. “As per law, we are authorised to seek the help of paramilitary forces, customs, PSU banks and CISF personnel during search operations. This is nothing new and we are doing it everytime. It is well known that we are carrying out such action day-in and day-out. So, it is necessary to take the help of other central agencies besides the state police,” the official said.
Sources said I-T officials do not at present have the numbers to carry out raids, as state police has not provided adequate manpower. “It’s nothing new. In Tamil Nadu too, officials had taken help of central forces to conduct raids. Taking help from a central agency does not mean sidelining state police. It should be treated as a precautionary measure. There have been instances where state police could not provide adequate force… this was done to ensure security of officials,” said an I-T official.
When told about the I-T department’s allegations that state police is not providing adequate manpower, a senior police officer said, “We are already short staffed… Still, we try to provide adequate force whenever and wherever asked.”
WITH PTI INPUTS