Friday, January 20, 2012

[HumJanenge] Open Questions to Finance Minister - Can RTI Help in Improved Governance

Dear Members,

The IT dept in the country works so arbitrarily is evident from today's SC judgement giving relief to Vodafone from paying a whopping tax of 11,000 + Cr on a deal more than 54,000 Cr+ between Vodafone and Hutchison. I have no clue about the tax laws but the end result shows the brazenness of IT dept come to the fore.

Bombay HC upheld the IT dept proposed levy of IT upon Vodafone and SC dismisses it. The question is not of tax or no tax, is there any accountability of the IT dept for their functioning ? These guys slapped a whopping tax based upon their  interpretation of the tax laws and Bombay HC up held the same but finally both the IT dept and Bombay HC have been blasted by the SC. What happens to the incompetent IT dept officials and Bombay HC judges ? If these guys were in private service, their heads would have rolled. How can we ensure that even servants of the govt are answerable for their utter lack of competence ? This is just one case which has come up. One can imagine a host of such cases where either these get settled through bribes or through HC and SC channel.  

There have been admission of a deliberate trick employed by  the IT officials who have admitted in private that when a tax payer files the IT return, the IT dept simply puts one extra zero after the total taxable income. Thus, 10 lakhs becomes 1 Cr. Of course IT dept selects the targets first. The tax payer now starts running from pillar to post to have that amended. He mostly ends up in coughing up some bribe to get the figure restored back to its legitimate number. Nothing happens to the IT officials as they declare, oh, "this was an over sight". Hopefully, e-filing of tax returns would prevent this.   

The questions for the honourable Finance Minister :- 

(a) What measures have been taken to ensure that such brazenness does not happen in the IT dept.
(b) If this happens then what are the accountability norms laid down for penalizing the incompetent IT officials.
(c) How many cases has the IT dept filed for courts ruling.
(d) Out of the above, how many cases has the IT dept won in the courts.
(e) How much money the IT dept spends on fighting the cases in the court.
(f) Give the time bound e-governance plan for the IT dept.

Please enlighten if RTI Act can be used for the above cause which is willy nilly asking for a time bound implementation of National E Governance Plan (NEGP) albeit different govt function wise.

Very pertinent questions about political leaders properties and police reforms raised in this section earlier have set me to think on the broader aspect of periodic mandatory review of NEGP as also the time bound implementation. 
With warm regards,

Col Mahesh Khera

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