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Finance Ministry warns tax officials of action against GST protest

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In the run-up to GST rollout, the finance ministry has warned tax officials of disciplinary action if they go ahead with planned protests, including taking mass casual leave, on the budget day.

The All India Association of Central Excise Gazetted Executive Officers is opposed to any assessee of excise and service tax being moved to states in the new GST regime and has given notice for protest that includes lunch hour dharnas and mass casual leave on the budget day.

The revenue department on October 10 issued an order asking officials not to go on any protest and cited service rules that bar such action.

“GST is a major tax reform. All decisions will be taken by the GST Council, keeping in mind the interest of all concerned – the tax payer and officers. Against this background, you are advised to refrain from proposed course of action,” it said.

The order cited service rules that do not permit participation in demonstrations and strikes.

The service rules attached with the order stated that “disciplinary action should be taken against the prominent participants in the ‘gherao’ by striking officers, and absence from work on account of participation in such a protest should be treated as “unauthorised absence involving break in service”.

“The absence should not be regularised as leave of any kind,” the service rules said. Rule 7 cited in the order states that no government service shall “engage himself or participate in any demonstration which is prejudicial to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state…”

The association plans to hold lunch hour dharnas on November 9, wearing black badge in office on December 7, day-long protest on January 5 and mass casual leave on budget day by all officers.

In its memorandum to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the association said the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) and its officers and employees have experience and expertise of more than 70 years in handling excise and service tax “which is missing with state officers”.

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