SET holds Haryana excise officials guilty of inaction in liquor seizure probes
During an interactive session with SET, the excise and taxation commissioner (ETC), Shekhar Vidyarthi, on June 27 said that deputy excise and taxation commissioners (excise) posted in districts were vested with the powers of collector to investigate cases of seizure of illegal liquor and were fully responsible for investigation as per the requirement of the case.Updated: Aug 11, 2020 11:45 IST
Indicating inaction by Haryana excise and taxation officials in investigation of cases involving large seizures of illegal liquor, the special enquiry team (SET), constituted to inquire into the instances of liquor pilferage from warehouses, in its report said that despite having powers to investigate, the department did not do so.
During an interactive session with SET, the excise and taxation commissioner (ETC), Shekhar Vidyarthi, on June 27 said that deputy excise and taxation commissioners (excise) posted in districts were vested with the powers of collector to investigate cases of seizure of illegal liquor and were fully responsible for investigation as per the requirement of the case.
“In cases of big seizures, the details are also sent to the collector at the head office. Normally, the collector follows up the large detections though excise and taxation commissioner is also apprised. However, the ETC admitted no such investigation of illegal liquor confiscated in the field is being done by the excise department,” said the inquiry report submitted to home minister Anil Vij.
Quoting an instance, the SET report said one such huge detection was reported by Sonepat DETC (excise) in February 2019 whose details were also sent to the ETC office.
“Since no action was taken by the ETC office, the Sonepat DETC simply kept on issuing notices in that case and did not finalise the proceedings until May 2020 when that case came into limelight after the Kharkhauda-Matindoo godown fiasco wherein FIR was registered by police on May 5,” the report said.
Excise department failed to recover big penalty amount
The SET report has also blamed the excise and taxation department for its failure to ensure that penalties for excise offences were levied on time and recovered from the offenders. “As per provisions of Haryana Imposition and Recovery of Penalty Rules, 2003, the collector releases the offender on furnishing of sureties or securities to his satisfaction. Hence, it is indefensible as to why penalties have not been recovered in many cases,” the report said.
The report mentioned that out of 8,337 cases of illegal liquor seizure between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020, 8,171 cases have been decided.
Out of penalty of about ₹8.58 crore imposed, the department has recovered only ₹7.21 crore, leaving a balance of ₹1.37 crore, the report said.
“The then collector, Yogesh Kumar, tried to defend this inaction by stating that penalty has been recovered in 97% of cases. However, he has cleverly not given the amount of penalty which is required to be recovered because remaining 3% cases amount to 16% of the total amount of penalty imposed,” the report said.
As per the report, in cases involving huge penalty amounts like the one pertaining to Kharkhauda-Matindoo godown case, penalties have not been recovered.