The recommendation of a vigilance probe against 31 'corrupt' commercial' tax officers has stirred up a hornet's nest.
Half-a-dozen of these officers had recently got lucrative posts using the good offices of a Kanpur-based trader leader.
While the state government finds itself in a quandary as to what to do about commercial tax commissioner Himanshu Kumar’s recommendation for the vigilance probe, the commercial tax officers' association is already up in arms against the commissioner, alleging harassment.
Kumar recently not only made a strong recommendation for the vigilance inquiry against the officers perceived to be 'black sheep', but also posted a message on the department's website on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti.
The commissioner, in his message addressed to the departmental employees, pointed out how some officers tried to apply political pressure to get posts in particular districts.
“Rule 27 of the Uttar Pradesh Public Servant Conduct Rules, 1956, debars a public servant from exercising external/political influence in service matters,” the commissioner stressed in his message.
When contacted, commercial tax commissioner Himanshu Kumar admitted to having recommended a vigilance probe against 31 commercial tax officers on the basis of intelligence gathered from various sources about their conduct.
"I have sent the recommendation to the government and now it is for it to take a call on the matter," he said.
Commercial tax officer association president Sriram Saroj claimed the probe had been recommended without valid reasons.
"This is just to harass officers who got postings through recommendations," he alleged.
According to sources, Kumar has recommended a confidential vigilance inquiry against 11 officers identified as 'highly corrupt' causing revenue loss to the exchequer while proposing intelligence gathering by the vigilance department against 20 other officers categorised as 'less aggravated'.
All these officers, posted in various districts are deputy commissioners, joint commissioners and additional commissioners.
What has created the real fuss in the government is the fact that an influential trader leader from Kanpur reportedly has complained to the powers-that-be that all the officers against whom the vigilance probe has been mooted are those officers who had been transferred on his (the trader leader's) recommendation.
"Now, the commissioner is harassing the same officers as he is prejudiced against them for using political influence for their posting," the trader leader is learnt to have said.
However, when questioned, the commissioner reportedly explained to the powers-that-be that there were only five officers who were common to both the list that had been forwarded to him for the transfer, and the list of officers he had prepared and sent to the government for vigilance inquiry.
Sources said the Kanpur based-trader leader had in June-July sent a list of 42 commercial t ax officers, recommending their posting at the desired places, mostly in the Noida, Ghaziabad region.
The commissioner, according to sources, gave the desired posting to all of them after the list was forwarded to him.
One of the officers against whom the probe has been recommended also stood suspended for absconding. Posted in the department's special investigation branch (SIB), Kanpur, he was transferred to Mainpuri but he did not join there.
This official, according, to sources, has in the past even roughed up his seniors and once misbehaved with a commercial tax commissioner in the last regime.
Incidentally, five of the officers against whom the present commissioner had proposed a vigilance probe also found their name on the list earlier sent by the then commissioner, Sunil Kumar, for a similar vigilance probe, in 2008-’09.