REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE CONSTITUTED TO EXAMINE MERGER OF ANALOGOUS POSTS,
ALL INDIA
SENIORITY ETC. IN GR. ‘B’, ‘C’, & ‘D’
CADRES.

August 2004

Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
Central Board of Excise & Customs


01. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

01.1 The receipts from Customs Duty, Central Excise duty and Service Tax contribute   about two-thirds of the gross tax revenue receipts of the Central Government.  The Central Board of Excise & Customs (referred to as the Board hereinafter) has of late undertaken several initiatives for simplification of duty rates and procedures without compromising the integrity of the tax administration.

01.2  The present exercise aimed at examining anomalies in promotion prospects in cadres at the cutting edge levels in the CBEC was an onerous task.   An effort to resolve these in a time bound fashion has been suggested for consideration of the Board.  The suggestions primarily target the problem of disparity in promotions for equally placed officers.   Various staff federations have willingly come forward with their suggestions.  We are thankful to them for their active cooperation. 

01.3  The Officers of Directorate of Organisation & Personnel Management have ably assisted us in completing this exercise.  In this regard, the efforts of Shri Sanjai K. Srivastava, Addl. Asstt. Director, DOPM deserve special mention.

01.4  We are also grateful to Shri K. M. Tewari, Chief Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai-I, Shri J.K. Batra, Chief Commissioner of Customs, Chennai, Shri S. K. Goel, Commissioner of Central Excise, Noida and their staff for providing us necessary  assistance at the time of consultations  with  the staff federations.

(Saurabh Chandra) (B.K.Gupta) (S.K.Bhardwaj) (Sandeep Prakash) (A.K.Prasad)
Member  Member Chairman Member – Secretary Member

02.  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

02.1      The  Central Board of Excise & Customs (the Board) has a sanctioned strength of 67,389 officers (including technical cadres)   in various grades to carry out its various functions.    90% of these Officers belong to mainstream Group B, C and D grades of the Department.  The officers in Group ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’, both on executive and ministerial side, are separately recruited / designated for Customs and Central Excise work.  With the nature of technical work (and by implication the ministerial work) becoming similar, the need for maintaining separate cadres has progressively diminished. 

02.2  Further, there have been acute disparities in promotion prospects within and across analogous cadres. This has resulted in demoralization and disaffection in the adversely affected cadres.

02.3 However, due to historical reasons and almost persistent litigation, the merger of cadres can be implemented gradually as per a well-defined road map. The recommendations in this regard are summarized below:

a) Merger of analogous cadres/posts in Group ‘D’ and ministerial cadres (both Group ‘B’ and ‘C’).  [Para 06.3 & 07.7] was not found feasible.
b) With effect from 01.07.2005, all recruitment/ promotions in Group ‘C’ executive cadre should be made into a unified cadre of ‘Customs & Excise Officer’. The promotions from this post should be to another unified Group ‘B’ executive post of ‘Superintendent of Customs & Central Excise’. [Para 08.11 (i)]
c) The all India seniority lists should be maintained separately for the cadres of Inspectors of Central Excise, Preventive Officers and Examiners w.e.f. 01.07.2005 and all promotions to the higher grades undertaken accordingly. [Para 08.11(v)]
d) The cadres of Preventive Officers and Examiners should be merged into a single cadre of ‘Customs Officers’ from a date when all Examiners presently on the strength of the Department are promoted to the higher grade or found not fit for promotion. [Para 08.11(ii)]
e) The cadres of Superintendent of Customs (Preventive) and Appraisers should be unified into a cadre of ‘Superintendent of Customs’ from the date when the unified cadre of ‘Customs Officer’ is constituted or when all direct recruit Appraisers on the strength of the Department are promoted or found not fit for promotion, whichever is later.  [Para 08.11 (iii)]
f) The proposed cadres of ‘Customs & Excise Officer’ (including existing cadre of Inspector of Central Excise & Customs) and ‘Customs Officer’   and ‘Superintendent of Central Excise’ and ‘Superintendent of Customs’   should be merged three years after the proposed unified cadres are constituted on the customs side. In the alternative, the Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ executive cadres of Customs & Central Excise would be merged after all the existing officers of the newly created cadre of ‘Custom Officer’ as recommended in (ii) above are promoted to the next higher grade i.e. Superintendent of Customs or not found fit for promotion. Further, no promotions would be available to the officers recruited or promoted to Group ‘C’ executive cadres, on or after 01.07.2005, before all existing officers in Group ‘C’ executive cadres are promoted or are found not fit for promotion, as they would be senior to the new direct recruits or promotees of 01.07. 2005 onwards. [Para 08.11 (iv) & (v)]
g) The inter-se seniority in Group ‘C’ executive cadres, upon various stages of merger, should be decided on the basis of date of publication of results and respective merit in the SSC examination for direct recruit officers and date of Departmental Promotion Committee meeting in respect of promotee officers.  [Para 08.11 (vii)]
h) The inter-se seniority in Group ‘B’ executive cadres should be decided on the basis of the date of DPC held for promotion of Group ‘C’ officers to Group ‘B’. [Para 08.11(viii)]
i) The task of merger of various cadres and their management by way of maintenance of seniority lists etc. should be assigned to DOPM.  [Para 09.6]
j) DOPM should be provided additional staff strength of 71 officers by redeployment with sufficient office equipment and additional space for cadre management purposes.  [Para 09.7]

3.  INTRODUCTION:

03.1 The   Board   is the apex body for collection of Customs & Central Excise duties and Service Tax in the country. The Department is required to collect Rs. 1,77,599/- crores during the current financial year; thereby contributing almost two-thirds of the gross tax revenue receipts of the Central Government.

03.2 The administration of Customs & Central Excise duties and Service Tax is carried out with the help of 67,389 Officers in various grades. Out of these, 2644 Officers are in Group ‘A’ and remaining officers (i.e. approx. 96% of the total strength including technical grades) are in Group ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’. The Board directly administers the cadre of Group ‘A’ Officers only. The cadre control of Group ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ staff vests with 27 Chief Commissioners/Directors General of Customs & Central Excise spread all over the country.

03.3  The Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ staff under the Board can be broadly categorized into Executive Officers and Ministerial Officers. The Executive Officers are directly responsible for revenue collection and implementation of the tax laws. The Ministerial Officers assist the Executive Officers in discharge of their statutory duties. The Executive and Ministerial cadres for the Customs wing and Central Excise wing of the Department are separately constituted.

03.4  A table indicating the grade-wise strength in the main stream cadres in Groups ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ is enclosed at Annexure-I.

03.5 The recruitment to the Group ‘B’ executive posts of Superintendents of Central Excise and Superintendents of Customs (Preventive) is entirely by promotion from the grades of Inspectors of Central Excise and Preventive Officers, respectively. However, in the cadre of Appraisers of Customs, 50% of the posts have to be filled   by direct recruitment whereas the remaining 50% have to be filled up by promotion from the feeder grades of Examiners, Preventive Officers and Ministerial Officers. The direct recruitment to the grade of Appraisers was made through the Civil Services Examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). There has been no direct recruitment after 2001.

03.6  In Group ‘C’ ministerial cadre, direct recruitment is made only in the grade of Tax Assistants. 90% of the posts of Tax Assistants have to be filled up by direct recruitment whereas the remaining and 10% posts are earmarked for by promotion from feeder grades of Lower Division Clerks and Head Havaldars. On the other hand, two-thirds of the executive posts of Inspectors of Central Excise, Examiners and Preventive Officers are earmarked for direct recruitment whereas the remaining one-third have to be filled up by promotion from the Group ‘C’ ministerial cadres. The direct recruitment to the post of Inspectors, Examiners, Preventive Officers and Tax Assistants is made through the Staff Selection Commission (SSC).

03.7  In Group ‘D’, 100% of the recruitment to the entry level posts of Sepoys is made by direct recruitment at local level. However out of this 5% of the posts are reserved for eligible Group ‘D’ staff.

03.8 The Custom & Central Excise Department was recently restructured as per the approval of the Union Cabinet in July 2001. The cadre restructuring was aimed at providing a cadre in tune with the rapid changes in the economic and technological environment as well as to meet the twin challenges created by revenue increases along with progressive rationalization of rates of duty.

03.9 Pursuant to the cadre restructuring, the staffing of Commissionerates was made as per standard norms approved by the Hon’ble Finance Minister. The application of standard norms coupled with historical anomalies   have led to certain distortions – in few Zones/Directorates the working strength exceeds the sanctioned strength; whereas in some Zones there is a deficit. For example, in Bhopal Central Excise Zone about 120 Inspectors are in excess of the sanctioned strength.

03.10 It has also been noticed that there are disparities in promotions in various field formations, especially in the grade of Inspectors of Central Excise. The 1991 batch of direct recruit Inspectors of Delhi Central Excise Zone have been promoted to the grade of Superintendent of Central Excise, whereas Inspectors of 1984 batch of Shillong Central Excise have not yet been promoted. The situation in the grade of Preventive Officers and Examiners is better but the disparity in promotion exists even in these cadres. Thus, there is a disparity in promotions within as well as across the grades of Inspectors, Examiners and Preventive Officers depending upon the Cadres to which they belong.

03.11 As indicated above, the direct recruitment in the Group ‘C’ executive and ministerial cadres is made through a common examination conducted by the SSC. The disparity in promotion prospects of the Officers recruited through a common examination process has naturally led to dissatisfaction amongst the affected employees. The problem of excess in some Zones and deficit in other Zones has also led to administrative difficulties. These are sought to be resolved through the recommendations in Chapter VIII of this report.

04.1  The problem of disparities in promotions in and amongst the analogous cadres and administrative difficulties due to excess staff in some Zones and deficit in other Zones have engaged the attention of the Board for sometime. In order to address these issues and to find out viable solutions, the Board in its meeting held on 20.1.2004 decided to set up a Committee to recommend solutions to the aforementioned problems. Necessary orders in this regard were issued vide Ministry’s letter F.No. A.22015/03/2004-Ad.IIIA dated 27.2.2004.

04.2  The constitution of the Committee is as follows:-

a)

Sh. S.K. Bhardwaj, Member (P&V), CBEC – Chairman.

b)

Sh. B.K. Gupta, Chief Commissioner, Meerut – Member.

c)

 Sh. Saurabh Chandra, Joint Secretary (Admn.), CBEC – Member.

d)

Sh. A.K. Prasad, Director (Customs), CBEC – Member.

e)

Sh. Sandeep Prakash, Addl. Commissioner, DOPM – Member Secretary.

04.3  The Committee was  required to explore the possibility of merging the cadres of Preventive Officers, Inspectors of Central Excise and Examiners as well as those of Superintendents of Central Excise, Appraisers and Superintendents of Customs (Preventive) with a single designation and single Recruitment Rules. The aspect of having an All India Seniority List for all Group ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ posts with all India transfer liability was also required to be examined. The Board also desired that the Committee may consult various staff Associations/Federations before finalising its recommendations.

04.4  A copy of Board’s order dated 27.2.2004 is placed at Annexure - II.

05.  CONSULTATIONS:

05.1  In order to involve all the stake holders and to have broad-based consultations, the Committee  decided to circulate a ‘Working Paper’ to the Federations/ Associations representing various Group ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ cadres.  A copy of the working paper and the list of respondent federations are placed at Annexure-III & IV respectively.

05.2  The working paper elaborates the issues, which were required to be examined as well as some possible solutions.

05.2.1 It was felt that the problem of disparity in promotions and the administrative difficulties caused due to the non availability of staff in some zones and excess staff in some other zones, could be addressed by adopting following measures:-

(a) Allowing deputation of willing officers of various grades of the zones where there is excess working strength to the zones having deficient working strength.
(b) Loaning of excess staff to the zones having shortage of staff.
(c) Merger of  all analogous cadres on All India basis with a   single seniority list for a particular grade with all India transfer liability.  As a first step, a combined seniority may be proposed separately for the cadres of Inspectors of Central Excise, Preventive Officers and Examiners.

05.2.2  In recent past the Central Excise Tariff and Customs Tariff have been aligned.  The valuation of import/export goods and that of the excisable goods is determined on the similar principle of transaction value.  Further,   clearance of   goods on Customs side is also progressively moving towards a self-assessment system which is   in vogue on the Central Excise side.  Therefore, the difference between the technical / executive work (and by implication in the ministerial work) of Customs and   Central Excise has become  virtually non-existent. In this background  the need for separate cadres for Customs and Central Excise needs to be re-assessed. 

05.2.3  In this background, the merger of  the executive cadres of these wings   into one common cadre of Inspectors (i.e. by merger of Inspectors of Central Excise, Preventive Officers and Examiners) and Superintendents (i.e. by merger of Superintendent of Central Excise, Superintendent of Customs (Preventive) and Appraisers) was proposed for consideration.

05.3  The responses to the working paper have been received from all respondent federations except the federation representing the drivers i.e. the All India Customs (Preventive) Services Vehicle Drivers Federation, Mumbai.

05.4  Upon careful examination of the written responses, the Committee decided to hold oral consultations with various stake holders to appreciate the issues better. The meetings were held with the federations as per details below:-

(i) The Committee met the federations representing the ministerial officers at Chennai on 26.5.2004.
(ii) The federations representing executive officers of Customs and Central Excise were invited for oral consultations at Noida on 18.6.2004.
(iii)   Lastly, the federations representing executive officers of Customs including All India Customs Officers (Direct Recruit Appraisers) Federation were invited for consultations at Mumbai on 13.8.2004.

05.5  The Minutes of the Meetings held at Chennai on 26.5.2004, at Noida on 18.6.2004 and at Mumbai on 13.8.2004 are enclosed at Annexures -V, VI and VII, respectively. 


06.  GROUP ‘D’ AND DRIVERS CADRES:

06.1  In response to the working paper circulated to them, the All India Customs and Central Excise Group ‘D’ Officers Federation, New Delhi opposed the proposal for an all India seniority with transfer liability for Group ‘D’ staff.  The federation stated that the low paid Group ‘D’   officers should not be subjected to  such transfer liability. It was also mentioned by them that they did not face any major problems regarding disparity in promotion prospects.

06.2 The All India Customs Preventive Service Vehicle Drivers Federation, Mumbai representing the vehicle drivers of the Customs and Central Excise Department did not respond to the consultative process.

06.3  The Committee concluded that since the drivers do not have promotion avenues outside their own stream, the problem of disparity was not acute in their cadre.  Similarly, in case of Group ‘D’ staff, the promotional avenues were limited to their own stream, except to the posts of LDC which have now to be filled up entirely by promotion of this group of officers.  Therefore, it was felt that All India seniority with transfer liability in case of these group of employees was not required.

07.
  MINISTERIAL CADRES:

07.1  The All India Central Excise & Customs Gazetted Ministerial Officers Federation, Madurai, which represents the gazetted ministerial officers of the Department indicated that in their case the concept of maintenance of seniority list at  all India level was already operative at the level of  Administrative Officer (AO)  and Chief Accounts Officer (CAO).

07.2 The All India Customs Employees Federation, Kolkata, representing the ministerial officers in the Customs wing, opposed the idea of all India seniority   as well as the proposal for merger of analogous ministerial cadres of Customs and Central Excise.  In their view, an all India transfer liability will impose considerable financial burden and disrupt their families, which they were in no position to bear.

07.3  Similarly, the All India Central Excise & Customs Ministerial Officers Federation, Coimbatore opposed the idea of all India seniority with transfer liability.  In their view, the employees at this level were in no position to accept promotions outside their parent cadre since it would lead to unsettling of their family and unbearable financial burden.

07.4 Both the federations also opposed the idea of promotions based on all India seniority even if such promotion outside the parent cadre were granted only in exceptional situations.  They were of the view that the problem of disparity in promotions could be addressed by diverting the vacant posts available in some zones to the zones where excess staff/ delay in promotion was taking place.

07.5  The  Committee took note of the almost universal opposition to the proposal of  merger of analogous cadres, all India seniority and transfer liability by all Group ‘C’ ministerial officers federations.  It  also observed that in case of ministerial officers the designations and service conditions on both Customs as well as Central Excise side are uniform. 

07.6  The suggestion of diverting  posts from deficit  Zones to Zones having  excess staff  was not found  acceptable as it would lead to distortions in the model structure  without offering resolution of administrative problems on a long term basis.

07.7  Considering the position indicated in paras 07.5 and 07.6 above, the Committee is of the view that the proposal of all India seniority with transfer liability for each grade in Group ‘C’ ministerial cadres was neither feasible nor desirable.  In case of Group ‘B’ ministerial cadres (for promotion to Group ‘A’ ministerial cadres) the system of all India seniority was already operational.  Therefore, on balance the Committee is of the view that  that no useful purpose would be served by changing the existing position in respect of ministerial officers.

08.   EXECUTIVE CADRES:

08.1  The executive cadres in Group ‘B’ and ‘C’   are at the cutting edge level of functionaries  and perform functions relating to the implementation of Customs & Central Excise laws and various other allied Acts. Conventionally, there have been separate executive cadres   for Customs  and Central Excise. This was required in view of the fact that the assessment practices and procedures on these two sides were different. Additionally, there was a separate preventive cadre to look after the anti-smuggling activities on the Customs side. However, of late, the assessment practices including classification and valuation on both sides have become similar. The policy of the Government to take the Customs clearance facilities to the door steps of the assessee has also led to opening up of a large number of Inland Container Depots (ICDs)/Container Freight Stations (CFSs) in the hinter-land. These ICDs/CFSs are mostly administered by the Central Excise Officers. Due to this changed scenario, the necessity to maintain separate cadres for Customs and Central Excise work needs re-examination.

08.2 As indicated earlier, the proposal for merger of analogous cadres and maintaining an all India seniority list with consequent transfer liability was discussed with the Federations representing the Executive Officers. In addition to their written comments on the ‘Working Paper’ circulated to them, extensive oral consultations were also   held with the Federations. Their views are summarized below. 

08.3  All India Central Excise Executive Officers Federation, Nagpur favoured the merger of different cadres of Inspectors of Central Excise as well as the merger of analogous posts of Inspectors of Central Excise, Preventive Officers and Examiners and maintenance of an all India Seniority List for these cadres. However, the Federation opposed a blanket all India transfer liability. In their view, an Officer should be transferred outside the parent cadre on promotion only, and that too if   it was not possible to adjust him within the cadre. In this eventuality, they wanted the   Officer to be promoted and posted to a nearby Zone and thereafter   allowed to return to his parent cadre within two years on first out first in basis. Their other suggestions were as follows:-

(a) 

 The merger of cadres within the existing posts i.e. Inspectors, Preventive Officers, Examiners should precede the merger of analogous posts so that existing intra-cadre disparities are removed.
(b) The measures suggested in the ‘Working Paper’ for removing the disparity by deputation/loan basis were not feasible.
(c) The seniority in the grade of Inspectors   should be based on the date of publication of the results and order of merit in the SSC examinations.
(d) After preparation of the Seniority List on the basis indicated in (iii) above, respective cadre strength should be taken into account for making the combined seniority of the three cadres, viz. Inspectors, Preventive Officers and Examiners. This list should be prepared in the following order - 7 Inspectors of Central Excise, 1 Preventive Officer; 7 Inspectors of Central Excise, 1 Preventive Officer; 7 Inspectors of Central Excise, 1 Preventive Officer; 7 Inspectors of Central Excise, 1 Preventive Officer and 1 Examiner and so on.
(e) The promotees and persons recruited on compassionate grounds and in sports quota should be placed in the Seniority List on the basis of the date of their regular promotion/appointment.

08.4  The All India  Central Excise Executive Officers Federation, Kolkata were also in favour of merger of existing cadres of Inspectors of Central Excise as well as the merger of analogous posts of Central Excise Inspectors with Preventive Officers  and Examiners In their view the merger of analogous posts should begin with Group ‘B’ gazetted level posts and work downwards. The federation also submitted that:-
 

i) The merger of cadres should be done simultaneously with maintenance of an all India seniority list.
ii) The All India transfer liability should only be in the event of promotion.
iii) The direct recruitment to the grade of Appraisers should be discontinued.

08.5  The All India Central Excise Gazetted Executive officers Federation, Mumbai (representing the Superintendents of Central Excise)   supported the merger of cadres of all analogous posts at Group ‘B’ gazetted level. In their view the analogous cadres of Group ‘C’ posts should also be merged in case it becomes necessary as a consequence of the merger of the cadres in Group ‘B’. The federation is of the view that:-
 

i)

The promotions to Group ‘A’ from Group ‘B’ should be made on the basis of a common Seniority List of all the three feeder grades instead of being made in the ratio of 6:1:2.

ii)

Upon merger of analogous posts, the inter-se seniority should be fixed on the basis of DOP&T’s O.M. No. 22011/7/86-Estt.(D) dated 3.7.1986.

iii)

The Federation also pointed out that the decision to merge various analogous posts was taken by the Board for the first time in a meeting held on 16.1.1996. Therefore, the merger should be made effective from 1996.

08.6  The All India Customs Preventive Service Federation, Chennai (representing the Preventive Officers and Superintendents of Customs) opposed the proposal for merger of analogous cadres of Inspectors of Central Excise, Preventive Officers and Examiners. The Federation pointed out that the problem of disparity in promotion is limited to the cadre of Inspectors of Central Excise. Therefore, in order to address this problem the interest of Preventive Officers and Examiners should not be sacrificed. In their view, merger of analogous cadres of Inspectors, Preventive Officers and Examiners would provide benefit of only one year in promotion to the Inspectors of Central Excise, whereas it will result in a loss of seven years  in promotion to the Preventive Officers. The Federation was also of the view that posting of Officers on deputation/loan basis could address the problem of shortage/excess of staff in certain Zones. However, they were in favour of merger of analogous posts of Appraisers and Superintendents of Customs (Preventive) and those of Preventive Officers and Examiners within the Customs Department. They also desired  that:-
 

i) Upon merger of cadre of Appraisers with that of Superintendents of Customs (Preventive), inter-se placement in the combined Seniority List should be made on the basis of respective cadre strength.
ii) The combined cadre in Group ‘B’ may be designated as Superintendent of Customs.
iii) The Preventive Officers cadre should be merged with the Examiners on Custom House basis in order of the year-wise merit list provided by the SSC.
iv) They were also in favour of maintenance of an all India seniority list with transfer liability. However, the transfers should be effected only at the time of promotion and that too if the Officer could not be promoted within his parent cadre due to lack of vacancies.
v) The Officers transferred out on promotion may be brought back to the parent cadre on first out first in basis.
vi) The inter-se seniority for Preventive Officers and Examiners should be fixed on the basis of merit in the SSC examinations and for promotee Officers on the basis of date of their DPC.

08.7  The All India Federation of Superintendents of Customs (Preventive), Mumbai favoured the merger of analogous cadres. However, in their view in the first instance such merger should be effected within the Customs side and only thereafter with the Superintendents of Central Excise. They also suggested that while merging the cadres of Appraisers and Superintendents of Customs, their inter-se seniority in Group ‘C’, i.e. the stage at which the Officers were initially recruited should be determined on the basis of merit in the SSC examinations, and then the seniority in Group ‘B’ should be re-determined on the basis of seniority so fixed in Group ‘C’. The Federation also demanded that while merging the cadre of Superintendent of Customs with that of Appraisers, the ratio prescribed for their respective cadres for promotions to Group ‘A’ should be re-worked on the basis of their respective cadre strength.

08.8 The All India Customs Officers (Direct Recruit Appraisers) Federation, Mumbai opposed the  merger of cadres of Appraisers with that of Superintendents of Customs and Superintendents of Central Excise. In their view the direct recruit Appraisers, who were recruited through the Civil Service Examination conducted by the UPSC, could not be treated at par with the other Officers who have risen from the ranks. Further, since the direct recruit Appraisers were recruited with specific service conditions of Appraisers only, the merger of their cadre with other cadres would  change their service conditions to their detriment, which was not permissible as per law. It was, therefore, suggested by them that the Department could consider one time up-gradation of direct recruit Appraisers so that only the promotee Appraisers would be left in the cadre which would enable the Department to consider the merger of cadres of Appraisers and Superintendents without any legal hitch.

08.9 The All India Customs Appraising Officers Federation, Mumbai (representing the Examiners and promotee Appraisers) opposed the merger of analogous cadres at all levels. However, they were not opposed  to the merger of cadres of Examining Officers of various Custom Houses. In their view the problem caused by excess  Officers in certain Zones and shortfall of Officers in other Zones could be addressed by posting Officers on deputation/loan basis from excess Zones to the deficit Zones.

08.10  The Committee have given considerable thought to the position conveyed by respective Federations and the administrative requirements of the Department.

08.10.1  It is a fact that the distinction between the Customs work and the Central Excise work has been narrowing over past few years. The Customs and Central Excise Tariffs have been aligned. The Valuation on both sides is done  on the same principle of transaction value. Therefore, the need to maintain separate specialized cadres for administration of Central Excise and Customs laws has   diminished. The nature of anti-smuggling work on the Customs side has also under-gone significant changes since the economic liberalization was initiated in 1991 - outright smuggling of goods such as gold, silver, electronic items etc. has declined considerably and the cases booked are now more in the nature of appraising/commercial frauds.

08.10.2  The Committee also took note of the fact that the recruitment at the entry level in Group ‘C’ executive cadre was made through a common examination conducted by the SSC, and that the promotions to these cadres were also made through similarly placed feeder cadres yet   there was an acute disparity in promotion prospects within the cadres of Inspectors of Central Excise, Preventive Officers and Examiners. This problem of disparity in promotion within and vis-à-vis similarly placed cadres, has obviously given rise to a lot of resentment and demoralization.

08.10.3  While taking note of the factors supporting merger of analogous posts/cadres, the Committee kept the following factors in view:-

(a) The Officers had opted for their preferred streams in Group ‘C’ i.e. Inspectors of Central Excise, Preventive Officers and Examiners keeping in view various factors including the promotion prospects and their allotment was based on their merit in the SSC examination.
(b) The Direct Recruit Appraisers were recruited directly in the Group ‘B’ service of Appraisers through the Civil Services Examination conducted by the UPSC and have raised the issue of there being a legal bar on effecting any change in their service conditions.

08.11  In light of the position discussed above, the Committee concluded that the analogous posts/cadres in the department need to be merged within a specific time frame and as per a well defined road map. The milestones could be as below:-
 

i) With effect from 01.07.2005, all recruitments/promotions in Group ‘C’ should be into a unified executive cadre of ‘Customs & Excise Officer’ (CEO). The promotions from this post should be to another unified Group ‘B’ executive post of ‘Superintendent of Customs and Excise’. In other words, the Committee recommends that all Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ executive cadres in the Department should be prospectively merged w.e.f. 01.07.2005.
ii) The cadres of Examiners and Preventive Officers in the Customs Department should be merged into a newly created all India cadre of ‘Customs Officers’, as and when all Examiners presently on strength of the Department get promoted to the higher grade or are found not fit for promotion.
iii) The cadres of Appraisers and Superintendents of Customs (Preventive) should be merged  into a new cadre of ‘Superintendent of Customs’ on the date when cadres of Examiners and Preventive Officers are merged or on the date when existing direct recruit Appraisers get promoted to the higher grade or are found not fit for promotion, whichever is later.
iv) The Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ executive cadres of Customs and Excise should be merged three years after the merger of cadres of Examiner and Preventive Officer and cadres of Appraiser and Superintendent of Customs, whichever is later. In the alternative, the Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ executive cadres of Customs & Excise could be merged after all the existing officers of the newly created cadre of ‘Customs Officer’  as recommended in (ii) above are promoted to the next higher grade i.e. Superintendent of Customs or not found fit for promotion.
v) Pending the merger of analogous posts, all India seniority should be maintained in respect of each of the Group ‘C’ executive cadres i.e. Inspector of Central Excise, Preventive Officer and Examiner w.e.f. 01.07.2005. All promotions to the next higher grade should be made on the basis of such all India Seniority as indicated in clause (iv) above. Further, no promotions would be available to the officers recruited or promoted to Group ‘C’ executive cadres, on or after 01.07.2005, before all existing officers in Group ‘C’ executive cadres are promoted or are found not fit for promotion, as they would be senior to the new direct recruits or promotees of 2005 onwards.
vi) The transfer liability should be restricted to transfer on promotion, that too only if promotion  can not be granted to an Officer within his parent cadre. In such eventuality the Officers should be promoted and transferred to a nearby Zone and should be allowed the option of being transferred back to parent cadre on first out first in basis.
vii) The inter-se seniority should be fixed at each stage for gradual merger. The seniority in Group ‘C’ should be determined on the basis of date of publication of results and merit in the SSC examination. In case of promotee officers   the seniority should be fixed on the basis of date of promotion i.e. the date of DPC.
viii) The seniority in Group ‘B’ cadres upon their respective merger should be based on the date of promotion to Group ‘B’ i.e. the date of DPC.

8.12      While formulating our recommendations as above, we have attempted to strike a balance between the competing interests of various stakeholders and the administrative requirements. This report has also been preceded by extensive consultations – both written and oral. However, in order to impart further transparency, we would recommend that these recommendations may  be placed on the CBEC website for comments/suggestions in accordance with a specified time schedule.   

9.0  ADMINISTRATIVE MECHANISM:

09.1  As indicated in preceding Chapter,  the Committee is of the view that the analogous executive cadres in Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ levels should be merged prospectively w.e.f. 01.07.2005.  The existing cadres should be merged as per the road map indicated earlier. Further, the seniority should be maintained on all India basis in the existing cadres w.e.f. 01.07.2005.

09.2  Presently the all India seniority in respect of Superintendent of Central Excise, Superintendent of Customs and Appraisers is maintained by the Ministry.  The Committee felt that this arrangement may be allowed to continue for the time being.

09.3  In respect of Group ‘C’ executive cadres, there is no system of maintenance of seniority at a centralized level. There are presently around 18000 officers (Inspectors of Central Excise – 15366, Examiners-376, Preventive Officers-1851 and I.O. etc. of Directorates -460).  Therefore, the administrative set-up to maintain the all India seniority for these cadres and to effect promotions to the higher grades needs to be suitably worked out. 

09.4  The maintenance of a common seniority list will require obtaining the respective cadre based seniority lists from the cadre controlling authorities and interpolating the inter-se seniority on the basis of established principles.  Further, the promotion procedure will  also have to be centralized.  This should be done in a manner so that there is  no undue delay  in effecting promotion. 

09.5  The task can be broadly set out as below:

a) Preparatory work for the merger of analogous posts in Group ‘B’ and Group ‘C’ prospectively w.e.f. 01.07.2005 by way of drafting suitable Recruitment Rules etc.
b)  Preparation and maintenance of seniority list  on all India basis in existing cadres separately i.e. for the Inspectors of Central Excise, Preventive Officers and Examiners w.e.f. 01.07.2005.
c) Preparation of a seniority list upon merger of cadres of Preventive Officers and Examiners into that of ‘Customs Officers.
d) Preparation of a seniority list of unified cadre of Inspectors of Central Excise, Preventive Officers and Examiners to be known as  ‘Customs & Excise Officers’.
e) Drafting of suitable amendments to the existing Recruitment Rules for enabling the maintenance of seniority and effecting promotions on all India basis.
f) Monitoring all  cases   where an officer concerned has been transferred out of the parent cadre on promotion and  has to be brought  back to the parent cadre on first out first in basis. 

09.6       Keeping in view the factors indicated above, the Committee is of the view that maintenance of seniority lists of each of the cadres separately and that of unified cadre should be entrusted to the Directorate of Organization & Personnel Management (DOPM). 

09.7  This additional task will certainly require provision of additional resources to the DOPM.  This has been examined in detail.  The   additional resources required to be provided to DOPM are annexed to this report. Its salient features are given below:-

i) Requirement of additional staff – An additional complement of 71 officers in 11 grades is required to be provided to the DOPM.   The Committee is of the view that this task is conducted in an officer-oriented set-up. Hence, large number of posts have been recommended in Groups ‘A’ and ‘B’.   The proposal for providing this additional complement is incumbent upon diversion of posts from other formations.  A composite table is placed at Annexure VIII
ii) Requirement of office equipment –  The requirement of Office equipment such as computers, work stations, tables, chairs etc. has been detailed in Annexure IV. This would entail additional fund requirement of approx. Rs. 28.62 lakhs. The detailed estimate of the additional office equipment and funds requirement is placed at Annexure -IX.
iii) Requirement of additional space – It is estimated that DOPM will require 6930 sq. ft. to accommodate the additional staff strength of 71 along with the provision of equipments etc.  It is not be possible to provide this additional space in the existing premises of DOPM.  Therefore, Board could consider shifting the DOPM office to UTI building, which has been taken by the Department recently, on priority basis.  If necessary, the space for DOPM could be created in the UTI building by exchanging the premises presently occupied by the DOPM with any of the Directorates proposed to be shifted to the UTI building.  The details of space requirement are at Annexure -X.
 

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