A fortnight after the income tax department got egg on its face when its sources claimed the recovery of Rs 125 crore in cash from liquor baron Gurdeep 'Ponty' Chadha's Centrestage Mall in Noida on February 1-2, only to revise the amount to a pittance of R50 a day later, the department appeared to take action for the fiasco.
After the episode set rumour mills into overdrive about where such a large sum of money had disappeared to, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Friday transferred its member (investigation) SS Rana and put K Madhavan Nair in his place.
Besides, four key income tax officers involved in the high-profile search operation have been issued transfer orders but these have been kept in abeyance.
No reasons were cited for the transfers, triggering howls of protest from their colleagues. The joint action committee (JAC), a forum of I-T department staffers and officers, alleged foul play by the authorities.
"We told the (I-T) department that if any action needs to be taken against any official, it should first be followed by a departmental inquiry," a JAC member said on condition of anonymity.
"Moreover, no leak has taken place at the field staff level as the entire operation was highly confidential and only top members were aware of it," he said.
The transfers the four I-T officers have been kept in abeyance following a JAC-initiated demonstration that included gheraoing chief commissioner S Bharadwaj, demanding immediate withdrawal of the transfer orders.
Despite repeated attempts by HT a CBDT spokesperson did not respond to phone calls, text messages or emails.