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Kejriwal returns IT dues, sends Rs 9.27L cheque to PM

Last updated on: November 03, 2011 17:23 IST
Arvind Kejriwal  returned over Rs nine lakh in dues to settle the issue of his resignation from the Indian Revenue Service, insisting that he was doing so in protest and it does not mean he has accepted any mistake.

Kejriwal sent a cheque of Rs 9,27,787 along with a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking him not to "trouble" his six friends, including Magsaysay winner Harish Hande, who had given him an interest-free loan to settle his dues. The 43-year-old activist's decision to settle the dues is seen as an attempt by the Team Anna member to blunt attacks from detractors.

The government has claimed that he had violated bond rules by quitting the service before completing three years of service after going on a study leave on full pay. However, Kejriwal said he took non-paid leave and quit the service after serving bond conditions.

In his letter to Singh, he said, "I am enclosing a cheque for Rs 9,27,787. This does not mean that I have accepted the mistake. When I don't know what was the mistake I committed, then there is no question of accepting it."

"I am returning the dues in protest. I appeal to you to instruct the finance ministry to accept my resignation. Once my resignation is accepted, I retain my right to approach the court to reclaim the dues," he said in the four-page letter.

Claiming that he did not have any savings and he took loans from six of his friends to pay dues, he said many people offered him the money but he did not take it as it may be construed as "misusing" the anti-corruption movement. "That is why I took loan from only those people whom I know for years. The whole government machinery is after Team Anna. I appeal to you with folded hands that your government should not trouble those people who have given me loan," he said.

Kejriwal had taken study leave on full pay for two years from November 1, 2000 after signing a bond that he would return the salary if he resigns or retires or fails to resume duty within three years of his study leave. He rejoined on November 1, 2002 but took non-paid leave after 18 months.

The government argues that taking leave after 18 months was violation of bond conditions, an argument objected by Kejriwal who claimed that he did not "violate" any bond provisions and resigned from the job after the stipulated three years of rejoining duty following his study leave.

The Office of the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax had on August 5 issued a notice to Kejriwal asking him to pay Rs 9.27 lakh, which Kejriwal and other Team Anna members had termed as an action of the government's "dirty tricks department" under instructions from political bosses.

In his letter, Kejriwal claimed that he did not violate any rules but "your government is asking me to return the salary which I took during study leave with interest.

"Your government is asking me what did I do during my two years of leave without pay. It was during this period that I prepared the draft for RTI. As I have pointed out, I was not given any posting for over an year. Do you think it was right to take salary without any posting for three and half years," he contended.

Kejriwal said he received international recognition like Magsaysay award during the period when he was on leave but in the eyes of the government, it looks like a wrong thing and is accusing him of committing wrong.

"I would like to ask you what crime I have committed my working for RTI during leave without pay which I should not have committed...I request you to please tell me the what wrong I committed," he said.

Kejriwal said he has been trying to convince the government for the past five years that he has not committed any wrong.

"I have been told that this time, Prime Minister's Office has also seen my file and they also find me wrong. I have not understood what crime I have committed for which I am being punished. If somebody can tell me what wrong I have committed, then I can avoid doing it in future," he said.

The activist said he had taken study leave for two years promising that he will provide inputs on how to tackle corruption in power and PDS sector.

"After joining back, I was not given any posting for more than one year. I was drawing salary without doing any work. I found it worthless. I did not have any leave. So I decided to take leave without pay. It was sanctioned also," he said.

He said many people have offered to pay his dues and it only showed that they can "see through government's attempts at targeting Team Anna members. "Rather than diminish, such attempts are only increasing support for the movement. It is strengthening people's resolve to fight against corruption," he said.

While his batch mate in IIT-Kharagpur and chemical engineer Subrato Saha gave him a loan of Rs 3.5 lakh, another batch mate Harish Hande gave him Rs three lakh, Kejriwal said. Civil engineer and friend Rajiv Saraf provided him a loan of Rs 1.15 lakh while another engineer Atul Bal gave Rs 62,000 and Vikas Gangal Rs 50,000. His former colleague in Tata Steel P Srinivas gave him Rs 50,000.

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