NAGPUR: A couple years ago, an officer of superintendent rank who took early retirement from central GST department at Nagpur refused to attend his farewell function. His grudge was that slow promotions had left him superseded, prompting him to leave, say his colleagues.
He is not alone in leaving for this reason, say staff union sources. Since April, there have been early retirements of three superintendents in the department with two more on the way, say sources. In Mumbai, a recent letter flagged by the superintendent’s association says at least four officers on an average are opting for voluntary retirement each month due to dissatisfaction. The letter written to the principal chief commissioner by Central Excise Superintendent’s Association (CESA) says 227 superintendents have taken early retirement from 2017-18 to 2021-22. In 2021-22 as many as 59 officers have left early.
What is being termed as ’regional disparity’ is dogging officers of superintendent rank in this central service.
The department is divided into 15 zones. Promotions come late for officers of superintendent rank in Mumbai and Bhopal zones. The latter covers Nagpur. But promotions are much faster in zones like Vadodara, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Zone-wise vacancies are created periodically on the basis of requirement of a certain rank officers in the area, explain union sources.
This is where the disparity starts, say unions. The next promotions are of assistant commissioner (AC) level. Till he is a superintendent, the officer stays within the same zone. However, after being promoted to AC rank, all India postings happen.
Those from the 1985 to 1996 batches are the most affected, and are preferring to leave, say unions. Early retirement in large numbers is also affecting the work as experienced personnel are leaving. Senior superintendent’s experience has been handy in day to day work, say unions.
“Now, superintendents who have entered service in 1980s have seven to 10-year junior officer as ACs coming from other zones as their bosses,” says Ajit KG, secretary of All India Association of Superintendents of Central Tax (AIACST), Vidarbha unit. This leads not only to dissatisfaction but also humiliation of working under a junior. Only because the promotion to superintendent level is faster in other zones, those in Mumbai or Nagpur are left out, he says.
Offices are opting for voluntary retirement despite the financial loss. One of the officers left even though nine years service remained. Leaving at this stage means a major financial loss, said Ajit.
The matter was also taken up with Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari in October last year, who forwarded it to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Even the chairman of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) was apprised. However, there has been no response yet, said Ajit.
Sanjeev Sahai, secretary of CESA, said the government should remove the disparity and ensure promotion of juniors only after those having put in more years of services are upgraded. “The disparity leaves officers disturbed, which affects their personal life also,” said an officer.