Income Tax Employees’ Federation (ITEF) is the monolithic recognised organization of all non-gazetted employees of Income Tax Department in India. Over the years, the organization has been in the forefront of all struggles under taken on the behalf of the employees of the Income Tax Department. The ITEF had a pioneering role in addressing the genuine aspirations of the employees and working towards its realization.
Even though the Income Tax Department came into existence way back in 1922, the aspiration of the employees for a national level employees’ organization became a reality rather belatedly. However, the Income-tax Employees’, on state levels or within the jurisdiction of the then commissionerates, had built up organizations to counter the oppressive stands adopted by the administrators.
The first regional organization of the Income-tax employees came into existence in Bengal. Even before the Income-tax Act, 1922 came into being, to be precise on 21-02-1921, an association named the Bengal Income-tax Association applied for its recognition. In 1925, Bombay followed with The Central Board of Revenue Ministerial Officers Union and in 1931 Madras with its Madras Income-tax Employees’ Association. Till 1949, in the absence of an all India organization, the movement of Income Tax Employees was confined to a few regions.
The idea of forming an All India organization for the welfare of the Income tax Employees was first mooted in 1949. Com. P. N. Das of Patna and Com. D. K. Khandekar of Mumbai toured all over the country and convened a meeting of various regional bodies in Delhi in September, 1949. In that convention an apex body, The Income Tax Employees’ Federation, was formed and its constitution ratified. A historic resolution adopted by the convention exhorted the employees to boycott the newly introduced Ministerial Staff Examination. The first all India conference the Income Tax Employees’ Federation, convened in 1949 at Lucknow, ratified the said resolution and as a result the employees of the Department refused to appear for the examination. Though the action was limited to the examinees, it was the first all India agitation by the Income-tax Employees which elicited a massive response. Later the Association elected the eminent and illustrious Shri Ashok Mehta, who later became the Minister for Planning in the Central Cabinet, as its president. The Government under the specious plea that no outsider could be appointed or elected as Office Bearers refused to accord recognition, leading to the premature death of that body.
Once the Central Board of Revenues became hard pressed to grant recognition to the Federation, the Board resorted to a chain of malicious and spiteful campaign against its office bearers. The leaders of the Federation had to face innumerable vindictive and punitive actions from the Government for the militant stand taken by the Federation. Since Nagpur was the epicenter of the organizational activity, the Nagpur Commissioner went all out to snuff out the organization and its leaders. The recognition of the Madhya Pradesh association was withdrawn. Com. D.S. Rajarathnam was first transferred to Sagar, a remote place in Madhya Pradesh and was then placed under suspension. Later, the Central Board of Revenues proposed his compulsory retirement from service under the National Security Act. Any person who tried to organize employees was branded criminals and saboteurs. The recognition of the Bengal association who staunchly opposed the retrograde conditions imposed by the authorities was also withdrawn. Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Association Com. P. K. Datta Choudhary and the Asst. Secretary of the Bengal Association Com. Ranjith Kumar were removed from service. The strong united opposition displayed by the employees and their resilience helped to bolster the budding organizational activity in the Department and to defeat the sinister designs of the authorities.
Even after this, Board continued its persecution of the General Secretary of the Federation which in turn affected the smooth functioning of the organization. It was in this circumstance that the second conference of the Federation was convened at Hyderabad in 1956. Immediately before the conference, the Board instructed the Federation not to elect the suspended employees as its office bearers. This obviously was an unnecessary act on the part of the Board to involve itself in the autonomy of the Federation. However, the diktats of the Board elicited scant respect. In total disregard of the Board’s instruction, the Secretary of the Bengal Association of which the recognition was revoked was made the President and Com. D. S. Rajaratnam, who was under suspension, was re-elected as the General Secretary. Ever since this snub, the Board never ever ventured again to interfere in the internal matters of the Federation.
The Ist conference of the Federation was held at Kolkata in 1955. This conference drew up a Charter of Demand incorporating the common demands of the employees. The Government was given time up to March 15, 1955 to act upon the demands and in the event of non compliance on the part of the Government it was decided to observe 30th March 1955 as Demands Day. The major demands included grant of Advance Increment for passing the Departmental Examination, treatment of Special pay as pay, scrapping of direct recruitment into UDC and ITI cadres, permission to publish the journal “Aayakar” etc. . Realizing that the Federation is no more a pushover, the authorities on March 15 itself granted permission to publish ‘ Aayakar’ and the Federation was informed that the rest of the demands were under consideration. Under these circumstances the Demands Day was postponed. However, since nothing concrete evolved subsequently, the Demands Day was observed on May 31, 1955. The unprecedented success of the agitation jolted the Board into immediate action and a slew of the demands viz. Advance Increment for passing the Departmental Examination, treatment of Special pay as pay, increase in the promotional quota etc. were conceded.
The Federation in its present form and substance came into existence due to the untiring efforts of comrades of Nagpur under the leadership of Comrade D. S. Rajaratnam. Their relentless efforts secceeded and a convention was held at Nagpur on 10.02.1953. In that convention Comrade S. K. Majumdar of Patna and Comrade Rajaratnam were elected President and General Secretary respectively and continued to hold these posts till 1961. The Government, however, calculated that if it was somehow possible to refuse the recognition to the Federation, it would meet with a natural death. To achieve this end, the Central Board of Revenue, in contravention to the existing rules, put forth stringent conditions for recognition. One of the conditions thus thrust upon the Federation was that the membership of the Federation is to be limited to the ministerial staff of the Department. A special convention of the Federation which was convened in 1954, at Nagpur, evaluated the situation and reluctantly decided to accept the pre-conditions laid down by the Central Board of Revenue for recognition and the constitution was modified accordingly. To facilitate speedy recognition, a special meeting of the secretariat was convened at Delhi, in the month of May1954. However, the authorities refused to meet the representatives of an organization that was neither backed by the ruling class nor by any of the ministers. It was only because of the fact that the then office bearers of Andhra Association were able to meet the then Deputy Minister for finance, the recognition of the federation became a reality. In May, 1954, the Federation was granted recognition. Thus from its very inception and even for the matter of recognition, the Federation had to enter into prolonged combat with the Central Board of Revenue.
At the 11th Conference held at Bombay in 1967, Com. Manishinath Gosh and Com. K.N.Nayagam were elected as President and General Secretary respectively. In 1969, Com. Pathik Banerji was elected as President of the Federation on the retirement of Com. Manishinath Ghosh. Com. K.N.Nayagam continued as General Secretary till 1979. ITEF was one of the founding organizations of the Confederation of Central Government employees. Com. G.S. Gnanm the then General Secretary of ITEF was elected as the Secretary General of Confederation. In the one day strike organized on 19th September, 1968, under the auspices of Confederation of Central Government employees and workers, demanding, inter alia, the need based minimum wage, ITEF participated under the leadership of Com. Nayagam. Thethen Government came down heavily on the striking employees. Thousands of employees were terminated, leaders of the movements were jailed, and in the brutal police action a few comrades were shot dead. The recognition of the Federation and foreign service facility of the General Secretary were withdrawn. It was only after protracted struggle the Govt. restored the recognition and vacated most of the victimization.
It was in 1957, the demand for 2nd pay commission came to fore. Our Federation was one of the organizations that served the strike notice demanding 2nd pay commission. Since the Government accepted the demand, strike notice was withdrawn. The retrograde and disappointing recommendations of the 2nd Pay Commission lead to the five days of historic strike in 1960 in which our Federation actively participated. The services of many of our comrades who participated in the strike were terminated, good number of our leaders was suspended and many had to face other vindictive action unleashed by the Government.
In 1963 Com. G.S. Gnanam took over as General Secretary. The proposal of the Govt. to amend the provisions of Article 311 to deny constitutional protection to Civil servants was met with a massive protest by the CG Employees and ITEF took active part in that action too. Under the leadership of Com. Gnanam, the ITEF was able to function in an own building purchased with the funds raised from the members. The building was later appropriately named after its legendary President, Com. Manishinath Ghosh. The building was renovated in the year 1998 into a multi storied structure by funds collected as donations from its members.
The ITEF and its units participated in the famous 1974 Strike along with the Railway Workers. Com. P.S. Rashtrapal, the then Joint Secretary of ITEF played a pivotal role in organizing the Railway workers in Gujarat. In the 1979, in the conference held at Kochi, Com. Nayagam was elected as President and Com. Pathik Banerji as General Secretary. In 1981, Com. Pathik Banerji took over again as President and Com. KKN Kutty was elected as General Secretary, who continued in that post for a very long peiod. Com. Sanjiban Kumar Bhattacharya succeeded Com Pathik Banerji in 1996 and Com. Umesh Mehta became the President of ITEF in the 1998 to continue until his retirement in 2006. Com.V. S. R. Krishna the then General Secretary of ITEF, AP Circle, took over as President at the Chennai Conference in 2006.
The urge for a united movement with the promotee officers of the Income tax Department took organizational shape in 1987. The two Federations viz. The Income Tax Gazetted Officers Association and the Income Tax Employees Association joined to create the Joint Council of Action to spear head the strike action on 15th December, 1987. The joint movement of the two Federations, representing about 97% of the Tax personnel brought about career advancement of an unprecedented nature to all its members.
The ITEF has faced insurmountable difficulties in eighties. During this period many of our comrades were victimized. The President of MP Circle, late Com. G. R. Kuril was dismissed from service under article 311[b] of the Constitution without holding any inquiry. Late Com. Sharad Parab, the then General Secretary of Bombay Circle and Comrade Vinod Behari Srivastava, the General Secretary of Western UP, Kanpur Circle, were also dismissed from service during the period. The seven day hunger srikes by Comrade P. V. Vargheese during the struggle of Rajasthan IT employees and the suspension of Com. Suresh Ajmera of Rajasthan have also taken place during the period. Our best efforts and struggles did not result in the reinstatement of Com. Sharad Parab and Com. Srivastava. After a prolonged struggle, the dismissal order of Com. G.R.Kuril was set-aside and suspension of Com. Suresh Ajmera was revoked.
In 1993, the Government promulgated the new Recognition rules. To abide by the said rules, the ITEF which had a federal structure had to perforce become a unitary all India Association. Strenuous efforts were made to bring all category/cadre wise organizations as also the composite organization which was in existence in Tamilnadu and not affiliated to the ITEF to the fold of ITEF. With the co-operation of all concerned we succeeded in bringing about a monolithic organization of all non gazetted employees of the Income tax Department under the banner of ITEF. It had a salutary effect and serious impact on the future functioning of the Federation as evidenced from the fact that ITEF could organize an indefinite strike on the call of the Confederation in 1996 against the United Front Govt.’s decision to discriminate the CGEs from the Railway workers on the question of Bonus.
The 5th CPC which submitted its report in 1997 inter-alia, recommended drastic downsizing of the Staff strength and abolition of about 3.5 lakhs posts. Upon the service of a strike notice by the organizations participating in the JCM, the Govt. was forced to set up a committee of Group of Ministers for serious negotiations. The discussions which prolonged continuously for 36 hours with the Group of Ministers resulted in the conceding of 40% rise in the pay. In this negotiation the ITEF Secretary General Com. K. K. N. Kutty, played a pivotal role.The Cadre Restructuring of the Income tax Department, with the joint effort of all the three All India Federations viz. ITEF, ITGSF and the IRS Association initiated in the year 1998 got the seal of approval from the Government in 2000. The proposal was in toto approved by the Govt. which has no precedence in the recorded history of Governmental functioning. The Cadre restructuring brought promotion to almost all employees and officers within the span of three years, 60% of them getting the benefit in the year 2001 itself. After the V-CPC report was submitted, the ITEF took initiative to coordinate all the Federations in the Department of Revenue and the COC of Federations in the Department of Revenue came into existence and forged a united movement which resulted in the upward revision of the pay scales of Inspectors and Group B Officers.
To mark the 50th year of our struggle and advancement, ITEF organized special functions at all State Capitals beginning from a Special Conference convened at Mumbai and concluding with the Silver Jubilee Conference at Kolkata in February, 2003. The Federation Headquarters throughout the period has strived to maintain contact with its grass root level members through its monthly journal Aayakar. Since 1981 it has not missed to be published anytime till date. The journal remains a powerful link between the members and the CHQ.ITEF is no doubt today a militant organization, capable of organizing its members for industrial action. In the last one day strike on 28 February, 2012 organized under the auspices of the Sponsoring Committee of Central Trade Unions and Federations against the continuing anti employee policies pursued by the Government, ITEF could register cent per cent participation of its members. The Offices of the Income tax Department throughout the country remained closed on that day due to the impact of the strike. The growing influence of ITEF in the Trade Unions in the country, especially among the Central Govt. employees Federations could be gauged from the fact that its Secretary General, Com. K.K.N.Kutty was elected as the Secretary General of the Confederation of Central Govt. Employees and Workers in the national convention in 2006 and as a Directive Committee Member of the Trade Union International- public and allied services under the World Federation of Trade Unions.
The verification of membership which was last conducted by the Government in 2003 in our Department returned the verdict of 98% of the non-gazetted employees being members of ITEF. Our achievements had been the product of the united endeavours made by its members. We have suffered immensely as and when the unity was disrupted. In the face of the new challenges, let us cement the unity; we have assiduously strived to bring about and march ahead with determination.