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Panel to probe appointments in tax departments
March, 12th 2010

Two sensitive departments handling high-level investigation into money laundering, both within the country and outside, have come under the scanner with the finance ministry setting up a one-man committee to look into appointments at the top level in these organisations after allegations of unfair practices were levelled.

Sources said a number of complaints had been made to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) recently alleging that appointments at the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) were not fair. CBDT is the apex body in the department of revenue in finance ministry and controls all field formations in the Income Tax, including all the directors-general of investigation across the country.

Following this, the finance ministry appointed a committee under P G Mankad, former revenue secretary, to review the selection process for appointment to various posts under the department of revenue.

The other departments that will be reviewed along with the appointments in ED and CBDT include Customs and Excise and the appellate tribunal of forfeited property. The terms of reference of the committee say it has to "identify systemic failures in selection procedure and to suggest changes required for installing a fair, efficient and transparent system in the appointment to these posts."

Sources said Mankad has been interacting with all officials concerned in the department of revenue and is likely to confer with the CVC before submitting his report to the government.

Surprisingly, even as the Mankad committee is to complete its findings and submit the report, the revenue department has submitted a list of 53 probable candidates for the selection of five members in the CBDT.

In December 2008, the department of revenue had amended the recruitment rules to make it a one-year tenure for CBDT chairman. This led to many eligible candidates being left out of the race and juniors being promoted to head the board as those who could have had an 11-month tenure were not considered.

Recently Income Tax and the ED were involved in raids on politicians and many senior IAS officers. The focus was on corrupt babus with residences of at least a dozen top bureaucrats raided in Jharkhand in a money laundering case linked to former CM Madhu Koda. The officials included a former mining secretary, two ex-chairmen of the state electricity board and eight bureaucrats of the stare civil services.

Weeks before that, search operations were carried out on the premises of senior bureaucrats in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh that unearthed at least 200 bank accounts and hundreds of crores worth of investments made by them.

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