Income Tax work suffers as promotions are held up at ACIT level
New Delhi, Jan. 7: The Income Tax department’s backlog for 2008, 2009 (leftover cases) and 2010 promotions has been addressed to some extent and many officers have been promoted as Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax (DCIT) in the senior time scale with effect from January 1, 2015 but still there is widespread resentment and disenchantment at a broad level among the ACIT and ITO level officers since promotions is held up in the case of a large number of officers at this level due to deficient APARs.
The issue of promotions is hampering work in the Income Tax department since the seniority list of ITOs has not been updated in all the regions. While the task of revision has been completed in UP (East), Kerala and North-Eastern region (NER), the job is far from over in other parts of the country. Consequently the promotion in the cadre of ACIT continues to remain in suspended animation for a large number of officers who are extremely frustrated. Pressure is mounting on the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for granting promotion to the cadre of ACIT. Time is a crucial factor on this count since CBDT is bound by the Supreme Court judgement in the Union of India vs NR Parmar case.
The Union of India vs NR Parmar case which came up before the Supreme Court addressed the dispute of seniority between Income Tax Inspectors of the Income Tax Department, direct recruits and promotees who were pitted on opposite sides. One of the matters brought up through this case was considered by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Ahmedabad Bench, Ahmedabad in R.C. Yadav & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors. (2003). The application in this regard had been filed by direct recruits.
Another original application in this matter, 2003 (N.R. Parmar & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors.) was filed by promotees. Both the applications were decided by a common order on January 12, 2004. The CAT, Ahmedabad, held, that seniority of direct recruits would have to be determined with reference to the date of their actual appointment. The implicit effect of the aforesaid determination was, that the date of arising of the direct recruit vacancies, or the date of initiation of the process of recruitment, or the date when the Staff Selection Commission had made recommendations for the filling up direct recruit vacancies, were inconsequential for determination of seniority of direct recruits.
The CAT, Ahmedabad decision was brought for review before the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad. The Gujarat High Court by its order on August 17, 2004 upheld the order of the CAT, Ahmedabad. Subsequently government of India assailed the order passed by the Gujarat High Court in the Supreme court through a Civil Appeal in 2005 (Union of India & Ors. vs. N.R. Parmar & Ors.). The direct recruits also separately challenged the order passed by the Gujarat High Court by filing Civil Appeal (Virender Kumar & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors.).
On the same subject, an identical controversy was also raised before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi. After a series of legal battles between the rivals–the promotee Income Tax Inspectors and direct recruit Income Tax Inspectors (details whereof are being narrated at a later juncture), the CAT, Principal Bench at Delhi passed an order in September 2004. This order was assailed by direct recruit Income Tax Inspectors by filing a civil Writ Petition before the Delhi High Court in 2005. A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court on in March.2005 had issuing notice and stayed the “impugned order” passed by the CAT, Principal Bench.
Similar applciations were also filed by promotee Income Tax Inspectors before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Jodhpur Bench. Their grievance was against the seniority-list as direct recruit Income Tax Inspectors, though appointed later, were placed higher in the seniority-list, i.e., above promotee Income Tax Inspectors, merely because they occupied vacancies of earlier years. The CAT, Jodhpur allowed the claim of the promotee Income Tax Inspectors by a common order. The order passed by the CAT, Jodhpur in September 2003 was chalenged before the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan at Jodhpur. The petitioners in this case also sought the transfer of the writ petitions to the Supreme Court by asserting that the controversy was identical to the one pending adjudication before the apex court.
Appointment to the cadre of Income Tax Inspectors in the Income-Tax Department is made by way of promotion, as also, by direct recruitment in the ratio of 2:1 respectively, i.e., 66-2/3 by promotion and 33-1/3 by direct recruitment. The controversy in TC (C) no.91 of 2006 pertains to vacancies for the year 1993-94. The vacancies for the year 1993-94 which were identified to be filled up by way of promotion were referred to the Departmental Promotion Committee), whereas, those identified to be filled up by direct recruitment, were simultaneously referred to the Staff Selection Commission. Matters snowballed as some promotee Income Tax Inspectors were promoted to the next higher post of Income Tax Officer. Certain direct recruits who considered themselves senior to the promoted Income Tax Officers, approached the CAT, Principal Bench, seeking consideration for promotion to the cadre of Income Tax Officers, from the date their juniors were promoted as such.
A two judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar in November 2012 passed an order in this case declining the claim of the promotees, that the direct recruit Income Tax Inspectors, should be assigned seniority with reference to the date of their actual appointment in the Income Tax Department .