Demanding an apology from former Bharatiya Janata Party chief Nitin Gadkari for allegedly threatening Income Tax officials, their apex body on Sunday claimed the remarks were aimed at hindering a free and fair probe into Purti Group’s investments and sought security for those handling the case.
"The IRS Association (All India Body) has noted with deep concern and shock the news-item appearing in the national dailies regarding the alleged threat issued by Nitin Gadkari to the officers of the Income Tax Department investigating the case of suspected tax-evasion by certain companies," the body said in its resolution.
The Association condemned the use of "such intemperate language by a politician of national stature with intention to thwart the rule of law and demands an unconditional apology from him."
The IRS (I-T) is a 4,000-strong body and it is deployed in the country under the umbrella of the tax department. Its officials are also deployed on deputation to other enforcement and investigative agencies for tax collection, checking evasion and a variety of other duties in this domain.
On January 24 in Nagpur, a day after he demitted the office of the BJP president, Gadkari had held out a threat to Income Tax authorities who were probing allegations of financial irregularities against his Purti Group, saying nobody would be able to save them once the BJP came to power at the Centre.
"As BJP president, I had to maintain the dignity and work within boundaries. Now I am a free man. The Congress' boat is about to sink and when our party comes to power, there would be no Chidambaram or Sonia to save them (IT officials)," Gadkari had said while addressing party workers.
The IRS association has also demanded security for officials who are working on this case.
"The statement issued by Shri Gadkari is derogatory for the Service and his threat is aimed to hinder free and fair investigation into the matter of alleged tax evasion," said the resolution passed in a meeting held in the national capital.
"The Association also requests the authorities to provide adequate security to the concerned officers," it said.
Income Tax department offices in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur have been probing investments of alleged shell companies in the Purti Group. I-T officials have also summoned Gadkari in person on February 1.
“The Association demands that the authorities responsible for maintaining law and order in Maharastra take suo-motu cognisance of the utterances made by him as it is clearly meant to obstruct a government servant from discharging his duty," the resolution said.
The body stressed that IRS officers have been trained to perform their duties without any fear or favour.
"The IRS Association would like to state that the IRS officers have been appointed to the Indian Revenue Service by the President of India on their own merit and continue to hold their position in the government by dint of their hard work and not because of the patronage of one or the other political party. The Service takes pride in its apolitical character and its contribution to the nation building. Therefore, while considering the merits of the case, they do not get influenced by the colour, caste, creed or economic or political influence of the taxpayers," the resolution said.