Give drills the boot, Customs officers won’t toe IRS line

Men in pristine white uniform of the Customs and GST are up in arms against IRS officers demanding guard of honour, salutes and protocol interfering in their duties of apprehending smugglers and traffickers and economic offenders evading customs and GST levies. Unlike the IPS and other Armed Forces, the Revenue and Finance Department officials are not regimental, requiring uniforms and British legacy of traditional salutes and parades.

A comprehensive training of frontline Customs Superintendents and Preventive officers on saluting to seating and walking behind IRS officers launched by the senior officials presiding Mumbai Customs and GST departments has been opposed by the rank and file of the uniformed executive officers. “Command respect not demand. IRS officers are obsessed over uniform and deliberately impose on subordinate cadre to satiate their colonial egos. Illegal salutes, parades and guard of honour are demanded from Group B officers. Customs and GST officers should be trained on how to behave with tax payers and passengers at airports but IRS officials are more interested in maintaining their supremacy,” alleged Abhijat Srivastava, General Secretary of All India Central Excise Inspectors Association.

Junior officers complained of unproductive hours wasted in training of front line officers on saluting, opening car doors, seating and walking three paces behind IRS officers, providing escort and protocol, giving right of way for IRS officers in elevators and escalators, wearing cap and snapping to attention when a senior IRS officer passes them. The training conducted at National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics Centre, Bhandup by Additional DG (training) Rajiv Kapoor has upset the junior officers being forced to spend four hours of their official duty hours for three days training to give “respect” to IRS cadre. “Tax payers money should be utilised for training officials in detecting contraband and narcotics, duty evasion and suspect profiling but crores are wasted on pandering egos of the IRS cadre,” fumed the Preventive Officer at the Mumbai International Airport forced to attend the “correct behaviour” training.

The Revenue Department is not notified as uniformed service . Customs has uniforms only for identification purposes and not for salute and escort or parade.

Reportedly senior IRS officers were upset with an incident report filed against IRS officers for abusing and manhandling on duty junior officers at the Mumbai International Airport. Deputy Customs Commissioner, Air Intelligence Unit of the Mumbai Airport Customs, Manudev Jain had allegedly threatened and manhandled a junior officer for detaining a passenger with excess duty free alcohol.

Mumbai Customs Preventive Service Association General Secretary Ritesh Ranjan had demanded action against the misbehaviour and humiliation by IRS officers which led the Commissioner of Airport Customs to order training of the junior officer to toe the line and give respect to senior officials. “Misbehaviour, threats and humiliation of subordinate officers is rampant at the airport. The morale of front line officers takes a hit when IRS officers publicly manhandle and threaten junior officers. IRS officers need training on appropriate behaviour with juniors,” said the Customs Superintendent irked with the futile exercise of non-essential parades and guard of honours.

Refuting the forced training of junior officers, an IRS officer said, “Customs operate on the frontline and represent the nation and appropriate behaviour is given utmost priority. The training is provided to uniformed officers for suitable conduct towards their superiors to maintain discipline.” The additional training is for their ‘overall development’ of uniformed officers, he added.

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