Monday, June 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Case for overhaul of Income Tax Dept

Most of the front page news items can be called obituary notes on moral, ethical and aesthetic values in all walks of public life. These depict the (mal)functioning of our system. Such reports are then followed by editorials and lead articles on the diagnosis of the various ailments.

There is not much by way of constructive suggestions for therapeutic treatment of various afflictions or any policy announcements by the government as to how they propose to prevent the repetition of such mortal blows to our public life. All those dinosaurs in our National Jurrassic Park after being bludgeoned by the shock of exposures go into hibernation for sometime and again come back with whetted appetite and sharpened teeth for a more brutal spree of hunting.

The latest scandal in the Income-Tax Department of transfers-for-money exposed by the CBI with tentacles going up to ministerial level in the Finance Ministry reported on the front page of The Tribune (May 23) does not surprise or shock those who have to deal with this Department frequently. They would all endorse views expressed in your editorial “Indian Bribe Service” the next day. We all know how such officers who are able to wrangle plum postings where high-income and high-profile assessees with vulnerabilities characteristic to their income generation go on the rampage to recoup their investments with multiplier factor of usurious proportions. The pliant assessees are treated with kid gloves at the cost of the exchequer and those valiant enough to stand up to them get hit in the solar plexus through high pitched assessments.


The legal reasoning and rationale are brusquely brushed aside. The decisions of superior appellate forums like the Appellate Tribunals, the High Courts and even the Supreme Court are side-stepped by one liners like “facts of the assessee’s case are different from the cited case”.

The senior administrative officers hardly monitor the quality of their orders for reasons which are not hard to imagine. Six to ten years after, when such capricious orders are pulverised by the Appellate Tribunal or the High Court, the delinquents conveniently move away from the harm’s way by transfer to another corner of India, usually on promotion.

There is another interesting facet to the transfers in the Income-Tax Department. The challenging postings in the Audit section or to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) or as departmental representatives to the Appellate Tribunal or the Settlement Commission are considered punitive. Officers who are able to avoid such postings desirably taunt their colleagues who are moved there as tainted with doubtful integrity.

The bottom line is that there must be an overall review of the functioning of the Department because the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) has come pretty close to being the Infernal Revenue (Dis) Service.

R.C. Khanna, Chartered Accountant, Amritsar

Parking in Shimla

There is an acute shortage of parking space in Shimla. The government can take some long-term steps to tackle this problem. At one time seed potato running into 5 to 6 lakh bags was booked from Shimla Railway Station to different destinations of India. There was a regular outward goods shed for this purpose. Owing to changing conditions, potato from Shimla is being sent by road to other places. The outward railway goods shed is lying vacant without being put to much use. The same has already been into parking. But since this place was not meant for parking, the same cannot be put to optimum use. I suggest that HP Government request the Central Government/Northern Railway to transfer this land to its name. The same can be used in a number of ways. An eight to ten story building can be constructed at this sight. Two floors can be sold for commercial purpose. This will give the government enough money to recover the cost of the building. Hence, there would be no burden on the state’s finances.

The fire brigade can be shifted from its present location on the Mall and accommodated in this new parking lot. This will decongest the Mall road area and remove the ugly sight of vehicles being parked over there. The present building of the fire brigade can be put to much better use. Since fire brigade will be located on Card Road, it would be easier for it to reach all parts of Shimla quickly in case of an emergency.

The ground floor can be given to taxies. This will decongest the circular road and lift area. Four to five floors can be converted into parking for visitors’ vehicles. This will bring enough money to maintain the parking lot and create some fund for the development of the town. A lift from Victory Tunnel to Mall Road can be constructed for the benefit of the visitors.

Similarly, parking space below the High Court can be converted into a multistoried parking to accommodate another 200 to 300 vehicles. Many more parking lots can be created towards the valley side in this manner all over Shimla. These measures, I hope, will meet the needs of parking in Shimla to a great extent.

Rajinder Aggarwal, Shimla

It isn’t Frontier Mail

The Frontier Mail was renamed as Golden Temple Express in September, 1996. But it makes me feel astonished that why it has been called as “Frontier Mail” by the print and the electronic media.

Sourabh Bamba, Ferozepore

Ending gender bias

I read the editorial “Abuse of dowry law” (May 23). The purpose behind the anti-dowry law to save the institution of marriage does not seem to hold much weight in all marital cases. If a woman persistently suffers from injustice at the hands of her husband and in-laws, the enforcement of the anti-dowry law has little effect. Eventually, she may have to drag them to court as the last resort. However, in lieu of the failed amendments and legislations, a concerted effort to implement the anti-dowry law is needed to end gender discrimination.

Geeta Kaushal, Kurali

Call of the koel

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s “Call of the koel”,. Since childhood, we used to hear the shrilling voice of the koel in March and April at the time of blossoming of the mango trees. This time, I did not hear her sweet voice till the end of April.

I am glad to inform the readers that I have heard her voice singing in full throat for the last few days. Like Khushwant Singh, every bird lover is feeling worried at the extinction of beautiful species of many birds.

I was thinking that the koels might have disappeared like vultures. Even the kites and some other birds are much less seen in numbers these days. The government should take stringent measures against the bird-killers and catchers to save the beautiful flora and fauna of the wonderful nature on this planet.

Grdarshan Singh Duggal, Qadian


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