A top tax official in June alleged a string of irregularities against Pramod Chandra Mody, the chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, The Indian Express reported on Saturday.
Former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (Unit 2) Alka Tyagi alleged that Mody repeatedly asked her to drop proceedings in a “sensitive case’’ involving “serious allegations”. In a nine-page complaint to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Tyagi added that Mody “admitted” to her that he had secured his position as chairperson of the CBDT because of a “successful search” action against an Opposition leader.
Tyagi claimed that she had “never dreamt” of revealing such details, but the “manipulative and unscrupulous” nature of Mody’s functioning had forced her. She reportedly sent similar complaints to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Central Vigilance Commission and the Cabinet Secretary. However, two months after Tyagi’s complaint, the government extended the tenure of Mody by a year.
Tyagi is a 1984 batch Internal Revenue Service officer. She said an old vigilance case against her, which was disposed off by Mody himself, was now being used by him as a “weapon of blackmail” to stall her posting. Tyagi was due for a posting as Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax on Thursday. However, she was moved out to the National Academy of Direct Taxes in Nagpur as Principal Director General of Income Tax (training).
Tyagi accused Mody of making up complaints against officers who did not agree to his demands and added that she was under tremendous pressure.
According to Tyagi’s complaint, Mody told her at the end of April or early May this year that the proceedings initiated against “sensitive assesses had to be dropped” before the end of May 2019. “This direction was shocking but it was conveyed repeatedly, despite the difficulty I expressed to him,” Tyagi wrote in her complaint. The instructions by Mody said: “There should be no record maintained of the fact that he was in any manner, involved in this sensitive case [which Mody had asked to close] even for consultations and that it should be ensured that nothing in this file should ever show his linkage, in any manner to this case.”
Tyagi said that it was difficult to convince Mody that it was mandatory to initiate action after notices are issued in a case. “Failing which, the careers of the dealing officers would be jeopardised, probably resulting in vigilance proceedings being initiated against them,” she said in her complaint to Sitharaman. “Even after this, Mr PC Mody directed that the draft of the notices would be approved by him. Here again, he failed to accord approval till the very end, despite being aware that he was jeopardising our careers.”
Tyagi’s office handled several high-profile assessment cases. Some of them are the Deepak Kochhar-ICICI Bank case, the Jet Airways tax evasion schemes case, and tax notices sent to Mukesh Ambani’s wife and children for undeclared foreign assets.
Tyagi in her complaint added that she also ignored Mody’s request to meet him at his office in North Block around 9 pm once. “As a lady officer in the department for 34 years and having experienced the mala fide intentions of such odd hour one-to-one meetings, which are possible to be held at other times too”, she decided to ignore the summons, she said in her letter to Sitharaman.
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