Monday, December 1, 2014

Our reply on "Guidelines for wearing uniforms by CBEC officers"

Posted by Secretary General on 12/01/2014 08:48:00 PM with No comments
F. No. AICEIA/HRD/Uniform/2014/31                                                  Date: 28.11.2014

The Additional Director General (HRM)
Directorate General of Human Resource Development,
Central Board of Excise & Customs,
409/8, Deep Shikha, Rajendra Place,
New Delhi-110008.

Sub:-Guidelines for Uniform for various Group ‘A', 'B' & 'C' grades-reg.

            Please refer to your letter F. No. 8/B/90/HRD (HRM)/2011 (Part-I)/4854 dated 21.10.2014 vide which our views were sought on Ministry's letter F. No. C.30013/11/2011 Ad.IVA dated 02.08.2013. 
            On going through Ministry's above mentioned letter dated 02.08.2014, it has been found that the Board is going to make it compulsory to  wear uniforms at all times on duty.  We do not think that this move will yield any result for the department.  Madam, it is long-time demand of the All India Central Excise Inspectors' Association to abolish Uniform.  We had also requested vide our letter F. No. AICEIA/Merger/HRD/2012/03 dated 24.06.2014 (copy enclosed) to abolish Uniform and Control Room Duty.  We want the abolition of Uniform, because of the followings:-

1. Uniform is the legacy of "Tobacco-Era" Excise.  Progressive changes in Excise laws have rendered the Uniform useless in the field activities. The field operations in Central Excise are nothing but akin to that of the field operations in Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Directorate of Central Excise Anti Evasion, Central Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence Bureau. But out of all the above said organizations Central Excise alone is saddled with uniform. When the controls have shifted to an audit and intelligence gathering mode, Uniform is more of a hindrance than a matter of pride or a necessity for identification or protection. 

2. Due to tax reforms, neither the assessee requires attending the Central Excise Office nor the Officers require visiting the factory premises frequently.  The digitalization of the department left little space for interaction between the assessee and the Officers.  Hence, the uniform lost its relevancy.

3. Various powers provided to the departmental officers to visit factories and carry out frequent checks have been done away with and in this modern era even LTUs are functioning with officers only termed as “Executives”. So, calling for officers to be in uniform in the office throughout working hours is nothing but restoring “Inspector Raj”, which is very much against the policy of the Government.

4.  We are set to move into Good & Service Tax regime and we are supposed to be Central GST officers while the State Sales Tax officers would be State GST. When State GST officers would not be wearing uniform it would be ridiculous for the Central GST Officers who would be performing  the same function of Tax Collection but "wearing uniform". 
      Several expert bodies including the Kelkar Committee have recommended abolition of Uniform in Central Excise:- 
(a) The 5th CPC in Para 122.3; categorically recommended abolition of uniform for all categories of Central Government employees except;
“Security Staff, Police Personnel, Nurses and Railway employees other than Group ‘D’ Ministerial categories”.
(b) The Task Force on Indirect Taxes (Kelkar Committee), 2002, appointed by the Finance Minister vide Chapter 7; Para 6.11.1 (i) stated;
“(i) Central Excise officers should not be required to wear uniform. This would change the mindset on both side (Department and taxpayer) and contribute to freer communication.”

In view of above, it is once again submitted that the uniform in Central Excise Department is absolutely unnecessary, against the basic idea of liberalization and burden on government exchequer.  The uniform is not serving any purpose in collection of Central Excise Duty/Service Tax.  Hence, we do not offer any view on "Guidelines for wearing uniforms by CBEC officers", instead we request to abolish Uniform from Central Excise & Service Tax Department.

Yours faithfully,

Abhishek Kamal
Secretary General