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Counter-Productive Guidance To CBI And Tax Officials By Modi’s Senior Ministers – OpEd

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Union Minister Arun Jaitley has found fault with the CBI for charge sheeting several bank officials in connection with the ICICI bank – Videocon loan matter. Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal has asked the tax officials not to be over zealous in collecting taxes from the business houses and others.

Guidance given by both the above ministers are counter productive and not helpful in catching the tax evaders and erring senior bank officials. On the other hand, the ministers should have asked the tax officials and CBI to act according to the law and procedures and do their utmost to collect the tax from the tax evaders and catch hold of the senior bank executives, who have indulged in fraud or favouritism.

It is well known that many business houses evade taxes and are helped by their auditors in submitting false returns. There have also been instances where tax officials at various levels have colluded with the tax evaders in denying the taxes due to the government. Asking the tax officials to deal with the possible tax evaders with soft glove is an irresponsible guidance, particularly when coming from senior minister. Tax officials have to be necessarily strict and use appropriate methods to ensure that the taxes due to the government would be collected. They are employed by the government for this purpose only. It would be ridiculous to ask the tax officials to deal softly with the suspected tax evaders ,which mean that the minister is asking them to persuade the tax evaders to pay taxes instead of forcing them to pay the taxes. Further, this would encourage the corrupt tax officials to go soft on the tax evaders and collect bribe money in the process.

It is very well known that serious frauds have taken place in several public sector banks amounting to crores of rupees in recent years ,which have made the public sector banks sick and put them in in dire straits .Most of these frauds have taken place due to unholy collusion between the senior bank officisals and the business men and inevitably several bank officials are involved in each of these fraudulent transaction and they cannot be done by one or two bank officials by themselves,without the involvement of officials at various levels It will be a long chain. Further, the board of directors in the banks have also ignored such frauds in number of cases or have been so inefficient ,not to identify such frauds. Obviously, CBI has to take a holistic view and charge all the suspected bank officials involved at various levels. CBI cannot be selective.

Possibly, Arun Jaitley thinks that it is important to keep the senior officials in banks in good humour and not to displease them by taking action against some of them. This view is unbecoming of a senior minister. He has used the term “investigative adventurism” to describe the actions of CBI which is an uncharitable remark.

It is high time that the senior ministers in Modi government should know that they should not interfere in the routine functions of the tax officials and CBI. They already have well defined guidelines and precedence to follow.The officials have their role and responsibility and ministers should understand that they should be allowed to function as per the rules and regulations .

Ministers can certainly comment if they come across specific cases of “investigative adventurism”, with adequate proof . Talking in general terms about “investigative adventurism” by senior ministers will not enhance the reputation of Modi government. Let not the critics suspect that the ministers have hidden agenda.

People believe that Prime Mnister Modi is very keen in eradicating corruption in the country and catching tax evaders at any cost. Are these senior ministers in tune with the objective of Prime Minister Modi?

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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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