Central GST and Central Excise inspectors are up in arms against the targeting of junior officers by the Indian Revenue Services (IRS) cadre for reposting and liking social media posts on microblogging platform X, formerly twitter, critical of the government.
Jhansi Division Central Goods and Service Tax and Central Excise (CGST and CE) inspector Akhil Soni was served chargesheet for major penalties by the CGST and CE Commissioner Vikas on Tuesday night for reposting and liking the tweets of senior IRS officer Somesh Tewari posted as commissioner (appeals) in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
Soni had allegedly reposted the tweets posted on the microblogging platform X and tagged the Prime Minister Office, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).
Social Media Engagement Under Scrutiny
Somesh Tewari had allegedly posted three tweets critical of the CBIC workings and corruption in GST and Customs department. He had also accused the CBIC of playing the role of filmy villians to destroy Hindi language to make English national language.
Tewari had demanded narco test of the Lucknow CGST Principal Chief Commissioner to expose CBIC protection to corrupt officials and harassment of honest officers on the social media post.
Association President's Role
Soni who is the president of All India Central Excise Inspectors Association (AICEIA), Lucknow and has been critical about the corruption in GST and Customs Department had allegedly liked and reposted the above posts on X leading to Memo for violation of central civil rules last Friday demanding explanation by Monday afternoon for further disciplinary action.
"Reposting and liking of social media posts is a form of engagement and sharing content is well within the bounds of freedom of expression. Our association has consistently raised concerns about financial misconduct and outdated administrative practices so the office bearers are being targetted," claimed AICEIA secretary and CGST Inspector Abhijat Srivastava.
Interpretation of Service Conduct Rules
Senior IRS officials confirmed that the charge memo was hastily issued without conducting preliminary enquriy to confirm the authenticity of the social media accounts linked to the officers.
"The chargesheet was issued for violation of service conduct rules which pertains to refraining from adverse criticism of government policies but the rules includes provision for exemptions to association office bearers to express views to enhance service quality," said the senior IRS officer.