For those who are used to enjoying the fruit of discretion, rules are a big impediment meant to be ignored and discarded like the inedible seed. The RTT has received a series of irregularities on the condition of anonymity regarding the transfer and postings in SEZ Indore on deputation basis.
One Superintendent of Indore Commissionerate has been working as a Deputy Commissioner of Customs on deputation basis in SEZ Indore for more than five years in violation of all rules and regulations, DOP&T & CBEC orders on deputation. This particular case exemplifies not only the lack of avenues faced by the other officers who have not been selected despite being eligible, but also shows the sordid working pattern of the Central Excise commissionerate, Indore , Bhopal Zone & Ministry of Commerce.
Also, this is not an isolated example of anarchy prevailing in Central Excise departments. Such cases abound across the country.
There are too many laws but too little implementation because those who crave for power choose to ignore them.
One allegation against the Customs & Central Excise department is that instead of taking a hard decision against an errant officer, it usually tries to save its officer from being disciplined.
At the root of corruption at the CBEC’s subordinate offices are transfers and postings in the department.
There have been numerous instances when the trade has brought officers of their choice to sensitive postings. It is common knowledge that a number of officers who land plum postings are able to do so owing to their “protocol” abilities — ranging from household activities, marriage ceremonies and funeral activities to their art of appeasement of senior officers at any cost.
A Development Commissioner from the Ministry of Commerce heads SEZ Indore. Machinery items / Plastic items to the tune of RS 1500 crore are exported from the Indore SEZ annually. One DC, four Appraisers and eight Preventive officers are generally posted in Indore SEZ.
RTT gathered that one Adesh Jain Superintendent ( Expert) presently working in SEZ Indore as a Deputy Commissioner of Customs under the Development Commissioner , Ministry of Commerce since April 2008 has completed more than five years. Jain’s normal tenure of deputation expired on 23/4/2011.The then Chief Commissioner of Bhopal Zone A K Misra vide his letter F.No IV(16)15/CCO/BZ/Admn./2010 dated 19/5/2011 addressed to the Development Commissioner Indore Special Economic Zone intimated that it was conveyed to the Development Commissioner vide his letter dated 3/3/2011 that the extension period of Adesh Jain& C D Parchure in ISEZ beyond original tenure has been refused .
The then C. C. Bhopal Zone A K Mishra in his letter to the Development Commissioner also made a reference of Joint Commissioner Indore’s letter dated 27/4/2011 wherein it was requested to repatriate the above-mentioned officer in view of the shortage in the cadre of Superintendents in the zone. The then C. C. also drew the attention of the Development Commissioner towards the DOP&TO.M. NO.1407/30/2006-Esst (RR) dated 29/11/2006. However, till date, neither Adesh Jain has joined Indore Commissionerate nor the Development Commissioner Indore SEZ has relieved him. C.D. Parchure. Suptd was relieved but the Development Commissioner SEZ Indore retained Jain. The shortage felt by the Chief Commissioner suddenly appears to have vanished with his own transfer.
For the knowledge of the readers it may brought into their notice about the details and spirit of the O.M. dated 29/11/2006 issued by the DOP&T which has been mentioned in the letter written by the then CC Bhopal Zone to the Development Commissioner Indore SEZ on 27/4/2011 while rejecting further extension of Jain in SEZ Indore .
The above-mentioned O .M. issued by the DOP&T Specify the implications of overstay while on deputation. The circular clearly mentions that it has been brought into the notice of the Government that even though the terms and conditions of the deputation issued by the various departments /ministries/Offices specify the period of deputation, there have been a number of cases of overstay without the approval of the competent authority. It has therefore been decided that in future all the cases of deputation shall be regulated by the following condition.
“The terms & Conditions of the deputation shall clearly lay down not only period of deputation as per RR for the post or as approved by the competent authority but also the date of relieving of the deputation. No further orders for relieving the officer will be necessary.
The deputation officer including those who are presently on deputation would be deemed to have been relieved on the date of expiry of the deputation period unless the competent authority have granted the requisite approvals, extended the period of deputation in writing, prior to the date of its expiry.
That in the event of the officer overstaying for any reason whatsoever,he is liable to disciplinary action and other adverse Civil/service consequences which would include that the period of unauthorized overstay shall not count against service for the purpose of pension and that any increment due during the period of unauthorized overstay shall be deferred with cumulative effect , till the date on which the officer rejoins his parent cadre.”
Attention is also invited towards DOP&TO.M. NO 6/8/2009/Estt(pay-II) dated 1st march 2011which again specified in clear terms that overstay while deputation without proper approvals from competent authority has been viewed seriously . The O.M. further stated that despite clear cut orders proposals for overstay for regularization of overstay of officers on deputation beyond five year period continue to be received and therefore it is reiterated that it will be the responsibility of the immediate superior officer to ensure that the deputationist does not overstay . In the event of the officer overstaying for any reason whatsoever, he is liable to disciplinary action and other adverse Civil/service consequences which would include that the period of unauthorized overstay shall not count against service for the purpose of pension and that any increment due during the period of unauthorized overstay shall be deferred with cumulative effect , till the date on which the officer rejoins his parent cadre.”
Reference is also invited towards the DOP&T O.M. dated 18th August 2010 wherein it was clearly specified that “ prior approval of the lending /cadre controlling Authority (DOPT-CS Division) in case of officers of Gr 1 and above of CSS and the cadre unit in the case of section officers & below CSS is required .
“ if the borrowing organization wishes to retain an officer beyond the prescribed tenure, it shall initiate action for seeking concurrence of the cadre controlling authority at least six months prior to the date of expiry of tenure. In no case, it should retain an officer beyond the sanctioned term unless approval of the competent authority to grant further extension has been obtained. “
Attention is also drawn towards the letter F. No. A.35017/66/2009-Ad.II dated 09.03.2011 issued Under Secretary Ad.IIA, CBEC, 1 circulated to all CC/DG under the CBEC for filling the post of Deputy Commissioner in SEZ Chochin, Madras and Mumbai and the same has been proposed to be filled up from amongst the IRS(C&CE) officers holding similar post. Again, what is the mandate of orders given in writing by the Chief Commissioner refusing extension. Is there someone higher than C.C. in the field to review his decision. Has CBEC opened it sub-office in the Office of development Commissioner who can subvert the decision of Chief Commissioner even when taken as per rules and in the interest of the department. what interest has Development Commissioner got in his continual presence are the question whcih administration must ask and get answers of.
Thus, from the circulars issued from DOP&T from time to time it is clear that the extension of deputation of Adesh Jain was rejected by the then jurisdictional Chief Commissioner A K Mishra Bhopal in the year 2011 and requested to the Development officer SEZ Indore to repatriate Adesh Jain to the Indore Commissionerate , hence Jain’s working in the SEZ Indore was illegal .
After the transfer of Mishra Chief Commissioner Bhopal Zone the new the Chief Commissioner Bhopal vide his office letter dated 20.01.2012 accorded concurrence for extension of deputation period of Adesh Jain from 23.04.2012 to 23.04.2013 inspite of the fact that his request of extension for the period 23.04.2011 to 22.04.2013 has been rejected by the competent authority. Therefore, the extension granted by the CC for the period 23.04.2012 to 23.04.2013 is unconstitutional and void ab initio.
Furthermore, Adesh Jain even after expiry of deputation of 5 years not reported to his parent commissionerate. Until going to press no order of extension of his deputation period beyond five has been granted by the competent authority.
Under Secretary Ad.IIA, CBEC, vide letter F. No. A.35017/66/2009-Ad.II dated 09.03.2011-circulated letter to all CC/DG under the CBEC for filling the post of Deputy Commissioner in SEZ Chochin, Madras and Mumbai and the same has been proposed to be filled up from amongst the IRS(C&CE) officers holding similar post. Therefore, extension to Jain cannot be legally granted after 23.03.2011, as he is not an IRS officer. Further from the letter issued by the US dated 09.03.2011 it appears that the Development Commissioner has deliberately not reported vacancy of Deputy Commissioner to the CBEC.
In view of above the deputation period of Adesh Jain since 23.04.2011 onwards is illegal . Further, the Development Commissioner Indore SEZ has never intended to relieve Adesh Jain (which he was bound to do for want of valid order of extension) and thus he appears to have acted beyond jurisdictional of law.
The entire episode of overstaying of Adesh Jain in SEZ Indore raises the following question.
1. OM dated 01.03.2011 specifically mentioned that it would be the responsibility of the immediate superior officer to ensure that the deputationist does not overstay. In the event of officer overstaying for any reason whatsoever, he/she will be liable to disciplinary action and other adverse civil service consequences. What action will be taken against Jain as well as the Supervisory officer who did not take any action to get Jain relieved?
2 The OM dated 18.08.2010 clearly states that prior approval of the lending / cadre controlling authority is required for granting extension for the 4 and 5th year and in no case the borrowing organization should retain an officer beyond the sanctioned term unless approval of the competent authority to grant further extension has been obtained. In this case, the competent authority accorded no sanction of extension for Jain for the period 23/4/2011 to 23/4/2012. Who should be held responsible for this deliberate overstay.
3 How the then Chief Commissioner of Bhopal Zone accorded his concurrence for extension of deputation period of Adesh jain for the period 23/4/2012 to 23/4/2013, when the earlier Chief Commissioner of the Bhopal Zone has rejected the extension of jain in the year 2011. What action CBEC is going to take against the then C. C .Bhopal who illegally gave extension to Jain for the period 23/4/2012 to 23/4/2013.
4 Since Jain was not accorded extension for the period 23/4/2011 to 23/4/2012 all the work done by the Jain for that period stands illegal and arbitrary. Why not the case should be handed over to Central Vigilance Commission to know what interest Jain and the Development Commissioner SEZ Indore had in the illegitimate stay of Jain in SEZ Indore .
5 Under Secretary Ad.IIA, CBEC, vide letter F. No. A.35017/66/2009-Ad.II dated 09.03.2011 circular clarifies that only IRS officer can go on deputation from 2011 onwards. Jain not being the IRS worked in SEZ and all work done by him in SEZ is null and void. How the CBEC will rectify this anomaly.
6 CBEC should take up the matter with the Ministry of Commerce and apprise them as to how the Development Commissioner has not relieved Jain even when the then Chief Commissioner (rank of additional Secretary) Bhopal Zone in 2011 turn down the extension beyond 2011 April and requested to the Development officer SEZ Indore to repatriate Jain.
7. CBEC may also call for records from other SEZ across the country whether some other officers are also overstaying in violation of all rules and regulation.
In the meanwhile, it has also been gathered that functioning is not smooth in SEZ Indore . A few exporters face a lot of harassment regarding their Export process. M/S Jash Engineering and Lupin ltd, exporters of medicines has to wait for very long period at the gate and for necessary permission for export. Sometimes it takes two three days whereas some preferred parties get all this clearances with a few hours. The same can be verified from the gate register and other records and the time taken for according necessary permission to different exporters from the records available in SEZ Indore .
Similarly M/S SRF exporter of BOPP films had to wait for eight to ten hours every time at the gate before they are given necessary permission to enter the SEZ. Whereas M/S Solar ltd got immediate entry every time in the SEZ. All this can be verified from the SEZ Indore records.
Hope that Directorate of Vigilance Customs and central Excise will refer the matter to CVC for further action and will not sit on the file for years together.