Demanding apology from former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari for an alleged threat, the association of Income Tax officials today claimed the remarks were aimed at hindering a free and fair probe into Purti group investments and sought security for those handling the case.
"The IRS Association (All India Body) has noted with deep concern and shock, the news-item appearing in the national dailies regarding the alleged threat issued by Shri Nitin Gadkari to the officers of the Income Tax Department investigating the case of suspected tax-evasion by certain companies," the body said in its resolution issued today.
The association condemned the use of "such intemperate language by a politician of national stature with intention to thwart the rule of law and demands an unconditional apology from him."
The IRS (I-T) is a 4,000-strong body and it is under the umbrella of the tax department and on deputation to other enforcement and investigative agencies for tax collection, checking evasion and a variety of other duties in this domain.
On January 24 in Nagpur, a day after he demitted the office of the BJP President, Mr Gadkari nobody would save the Income Tax authority when the BJP came to power at the Centre.
"As BJP president I had to maintain dignity and work within boundaries.... Now I am a free man. Congress' boat is about to sink and when our party comes to power, there would be no Chidambaram or Sonia to save them (IT officials)," Mr Gadkari had said addressing party workers.
The IRS association has also demanded security for officials working on this case.
"The statement issued by Shri Gadkari is derogatory for the Service and his threat is aimed to hinder free and fair investigations into a matter of alleged tax evasion," said the resolution passed in a meeting held in the national capital.
"The Association also requests the authorities to provide adequate security to the concerned officers," it said.
Income Tax department offices in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur have been probing investments of alleged shell companies in the Purti group, which Mr Gadkari founded in 2000. He resigned as its chairman in 2011. The authorities have summoned Mr Gadkari on February 1 as part of this probe.
"The Association demands that the authorities responsible for maintaining law and order in Maharastra take suo-motu cognisance of the utterances made by him as it is clearly meant to obstruct a Government Servant from discharging his duty," the resolution said.
The body stressed IRS officers have been trained to perform their duties without any fear or favour.
"IRS Association would like to state that the IRS officers have been appointed to the Indian Revenue Service by the Hon'ble President of India on their own merit and continue to hold their position in the Government by dint of their hard work and not because of the patronage of one or the other political party.
"The Service takes pride in its apolitical character and its contribution to the nation building.... Therefore, while considering the merits of the case they do not get influenced by the color, caste, creed or economic or political influence of the taxpayers," the resolution said.