Punjab excise department officials up the ante against state government acts; announces strike
Kanwar inder Singh/ royalpatiala.in
A meeting of the Confederation of all the Associations of the Excise and Taxation Department i.e. The Senior Officers’ Association, ETOs Association, ETIs Association and Association of Ministerial Staff was today held jointly and virtually in the wake of FIR No. 21 dated 04.11.2022 registered by the Vigilance Bureau showing connivance of the department for alleged tax evasion. The unwarranted action of the VB is strongly condemned, and resentment expressed, by all the office-bearers of the confederation unanimously calling on the government to come forward and stop the VB from using tactics to terrorize the officials / officers doing their work tirelessly with the single mission of increasing and safe-guarding the government revenue, a fact, that has been recently highlighted by the FM himself.
They stated that the Bureau is overstepping its power, authority and jurisdiction as, as per the Law, only a GST officer is authorized to intercept and verify a vehicle for the goods or documents, pertaining to the goods, for tax evasion. This is sheer misuse and violation of law, which the Confederation stated, can’t be tolerated at any cost. Earlier, an FIR was lodged in Bathinda on the same grounds, in which the involvement of the department was alleged, in FIR No. 12 / 23.09.2022 on the same grounds, without any proof.
The members stated that the VB is hell-bent on terrorizing the officials / officers of the department, which must be at the hands of tax-evading fraternity, who want to twist the officers round their fingers by claiming to have links with VB sleuths, at the cost of government revenue, even as, as already stated, the revenue graph of the State GST is at peak, far more than ever collected during any previous period. The government must interfere and obstruct the VB from undue interference in the working of GST department. The government must realize that by demoralizing the officers, the revenue will suffer and will be hit badly. In most of such cases, the unscrupulous elements are behind such acts, who want to keep the morale of the officers down, and often threaten the officers on the basis of their links with the VB sleuths at the cost of revenue. If VB is not stopped from this undue interference, these tax-evaders will get another shot in the arm. Such acts, they iterated, have put the image of the department at stake. This high-handedness of the VB has adverse impact on the working of the department and revenue collection.
It is demanded that the said two FIRs one at SAS Nagar and other at Bathinda be cancelled with immediate effect and the VB be apprised of refusal of government sanction for FIRs No. 8 and 9 of 2020 in which 20 officers of the department had to be behind bars without no involvement in the alleged connivance in the tax-evasion acts.
The members of the confederation revealed that similarly, in another case, Excise Officers/Officials of Patiala range have been transferred and charge-sheeted under pressure from police and media whereas prima facie no case is made out against them.
It was strongly felt that it will not be feasible for any of the officers/officials of the department to continue with work in such a terrorizing atmosphere. Therefore, following resolutions were passed unanimously in the meeting:
- Immediate suspension of roadside checking by all the mobile wings.
- The whole department will remain on pen down strike on 07.11.2022 (Monday).
- Thereafter, from 08.11.2022 onwards, the whole department will proceed on indefinite strike.
No work of any kind in district offices, mobile wings, audit wings, distilleries, bottling plants and excise ranges/zones etc. will be done till the unconditional acceptance of following demands:
- The effective remedial action i.e. the quashing of the FIR No. 21 of 2022 lodged by V. B. Flying Squad-1, S.A.S. Nagar and FIR No. 12 of 2022 lodged at V.B. Bathinda be taken immediately.
- That sanction u/s 197 of CrPC, 1973 and section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for criminal prosecution of officers/officials of Excise and Taxation Department be refused in cases of FIRs No. 8 and 9 of 2020 lodged against 20 innocent officers of our department and the officers being illegally implicated be given complete benefit of period of arrest and judicial custody in these cases.
- That the whole charges against the Excise Officers/Officials of Patiala range be dropped and transfer orders be cancelled with immediate effect.
- The staff of the V.B. who has lodged this FIR should be dealt with severely and they should be show-caused for damaging the reputation of Excise & Taxation Department without any rhyme or reason.
Punjab excise department officials up the ante against state government acts; announces strike . The confederation members further stated that unless and until their genuine and fair demands are not met, they will not resume work. Those present in the meeting included Bhupinder Bhatia, Working President, Senior Officers Association, Baldeep Karan Singh, President, ETOs Association, Bhawna Handa, Vice-President, Kulwinder Singh Rai, President, Inspectors Association and Khushkaran Jeet Singh, president of Ministerial Staff of Excise and Taxation Department.