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EDITOR's KEYBOARD - FROM ARCHIVE

Amended Transfer Policy: CBDT does good work but more needs to be done; Will CBEC follow suit?
By Shailendra Kumar, Founder Editor (Dated: Feb 18, 2010)
Jul 08, 2019

NEW Transfer Policy, framed during the former Finance Minister, Mr P Chidambaram, has been a rich fountain of serious grievances, and even avoidable litigations for both the Revenue Boards. Statistically speaking, the problem has been a little more serious and widespread in the case of CBDT. However, with the change in the hot seat in North Block, there has been a refreshing change in the approach and the attitude of Policy-making authorities which have finally notified a new amended transfer policy.

The amendments have been substantively significant as the CBDT has done away with the artificial and impracticable taxonomy of various cities in terms of Stations A, B & C. The Board has listed eight major cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune and Bangalore - where a continuous stay of eight years has been permitted. For most State capitals, it is five years and for others, it is three.

The broad division of the country in terms of regions has been dispensed with. Now, a Region is as simple as the jurisdiction of a Cadre Controlling CCIT. And the period of maximum stay allowed in a region is 24 years. Many posts like the Board, NADT, deputation to various organisations under the Department of Revenue have been exempted. The period of deputation is also going to be discounted from the slab of total stay. In other words, major relief has been granted.

So far as the much sought after cities of Mumbai and Delhi are concerned, a special provision has been made to give a break of two years. In other words, if an officer wants to move to Mumbai from Delhi he cannot do it without a cooling off posting of two years. And for this purpose, a posting to places like Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Thane have been ruled out.

If one takes a broader look at the efforts going into the amendments, one may feel compelled to give a pat on the back of HRD Directorate. However, TIOL would like to commend the Directorate for a very thoughtful and meaningful para in the policy which reflects on the institutional thinking to make best use of the human capital in the Department to realise the organisation goal. And it reads:

''DG (HRD) will assess and determine job requirements, job profiles and skills needed for various posts in the attached Directorates of CBDT and provide the Board list of suitable officers having the requisite skill-sets so as to enable the Placement Committee to select suitable officers for these posts.''

By inserting this para in the amended policy, the HRD Directorate has put huge onus on its head to gear up the Department for its 'Vision 2020' and future challenges. For a long time TIOL has been harping on the benefits of identifying the aptitude, the traits, the skills and the interests of officers in certain areas of the Department's large basket of activities and give them postings according to such database to extract the best out of them. It will help not only in garnering extra revenue but also in understanding the needs of the taxpayers. With revenue collections becoming a highly arduous job in the backdrop of growing complexities of financial architecture of the business, it is important that the CBDT creates pools of officers who could be posted to specialised Directorates like Transfer Pricing, International Taxation, ITAT, Investigation etc. This will certainly not only help sustain the interests of officers but also enable them to attain higher degree of specialisation in a particular stream of revenue collections.

However, there are many more areas besides the Transfer Policy which call for the attention of the Board. One such area is the slothful preparation on the front of empanelment of officers for deputation. The DoP&T regularly invites cadre-controlling authorities to send the list of their officers for empanelment for deputation to various arms of the Government. So far as CBDT is concerned, it has not done it even for 1981 batch for JS-level deputation. CBDT needs to believe that deputation is one of the easy ways for capacity building in the Department, and up-to-date empanelment must be one of the focus areas of the Ad VI in the Board. A system of Deputation Reserve must be put in place so that more and more officers could go out at JS and Addl Secretary-rank to various other ministries.

Another area where a large number of officers feel aggrieved is the retrospective application of DoP&T guidelines dated 18.02.2008 with regard to benchmark prescription for promotion to SAG level and above wherein it has stated that the 'very good' benchmark in ACRs must be met for five years under consideration. This guideline is so watertight in its wording and intent that if one has got four 'Outstanding' but one 'Good' he is out in the cold for another five years for promotion. This has created distortionary situations in the Board by giving retrospective effect to it. Too many officers have gone to the court, and the judicial wisdom has gone against the guidelines. The Apex Court in its ruling in the case of Dev Dutt Vs UoI has suggested that the Government should be a model employer and it should not discriminate but in these cases, the officers getting 'Good' have been worse off than even those who got 'Adverse' as they had a chance to represent and get their grades corrected. The Apex Court has clearly said that in case of any grade which is below the benchmark for promotion, it should be treated as 'Adverse' and an officer must be given a chance to represent. Let's hope good sense prevails and justice is done to these officers. And HRD Directorate could take up this issue with the Board.

Anyway, let's hope that the good work done by the CBDT is quickly followed by the CBEC which will have to make major amendments in its Transfer Policy which is no less grievance-producing than the erstwhile policy of the CBDT. The CBEC does need to take a closer look at sensitive and non-sensitive postings besides the posting to some of its star-grade Directorates like DRI and DGCEI. Let's hope, these amendments are notified without losing much time so that the entire homework for the forthcoming AGT could be done with the amended perspective.