CA Saurav Somani

I hurried inside the elevator of the Sale Tax Department among others and breathed in the usual “fragrance” of tobacco and paan plastered colourfully on the door. My pocket felt heavy with currency notes which, by the time I would leave, would become considerably lighter!

Perhaps you are expecting a usual case of corruption, the ‘so-used-to’ handing out the money like sweets in order to satisfy the hunger of the henchmen; well, I too expected the same as I reached the fourth floor.

Little did I know that a most ‘curious’ case awaited me…

As soon as I walked in to a large room full of clerks, assistants and mountainous piles of files, my face split into a smile. A fake smile, to speak the truth; you have to have a “pleased-to-see-you” expression to please the people sitting there, if you want your work done!

Heads turned as I made my way to an assistant, they all had their eyes on me. Was I good looking? Well those heads usually turned not because of your good looks but because of their greed.

Businessman Hand And Money To Other For Corruption

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Good morning, Sir!” I greeted happily to an assistant as if nothing could’ve made me happier than to see him! (Let’s call him Mr. A).

 “Hmmm…” Mr. A grunted, not interested in greeting back, but busy reading the newspaper.

“Sir, it’s been fifteen days since I made an application for C-form; my employee comes here every day for the form but is denied. My client isn’t happy. Sir, may I know the reason?” I asked politely, suppressing any hint of anger I felt.

Mr. A still didn’t look up; the newspaper he was reading might have some highly exciting, buzz worthy news. Or, perhaps, what I said was as unimportant as a buzzing bee.

“You tell me, how can I issue you C-form?” Mr. A finally spoke.

“I don’t understand,” I said, perplexed, “My client’s returns, taxes, assessment are all clear. And yes,” I said in a whisper, “I paid you your fees. So why –

“No, no,” Mr. A interrupted, waving his hands, “you don’t get it. I didn’t find your client’s file.”

Didn’t find my client’s file?” I repeated, even more perplexed.

“See the files here,” he barked, gesturing to the dusty countless files around him, “The file is lost somewhere!”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I flared up, unable to contain anymore, “File is lost? That’s the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard! I – ”

“Listen, mister!” Mr. A stood up, glaring at me, “Don’t you yell at me like this! What can I do if the file is lost?!”

“Listen, Sir!” I stated firmly, “if the file is indeed lost, it’s your fault. It’s not ours. You should’ve apologised for such irresponsibility! And yet, you are behaving as if it’s not your fault! I ask you!”

And so, we argued on and people gathered about for the show. Mr. A was of no help. He made me look as if I was the culprit behind the lost file. Infuriated, I stormed inside the office of “higher authority” and explained the curious case of the lost file.

The higher authority called Mr. A.

“What happened? How can the file be lost?”

“I don’t know, Sir!” Mr. A replied.

I surely thought with relief that the higher authority would reprimand him. The case would be solved. Instead, to my utter amazement, the higher authority and Mr. A suddenly smiled at each other as if sharing a private joke. And I was the subject of their joke…

Mr. A suddenly left the office. The higher authority looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, young man. The file will be found. It must have got misplaced. See, things are different here…” his whispered his voice fraught with conspiracy, “Just give Mr. A some chai-pani…

In case if you are unaware, “Chai-pani” is the perfect synonym of bribery which you wouldn’t get in a dictionary!

Five minutes later, I found myself, most unwillingly and most painfully, handing out my hard-earned money not only to Mr. A but also to his peon. They literally jumped about in glee as if they had won some lottery!

As this incident comes to an end, the most peculiar, annoyingly hilarious part was: they searched the file here and there, out and about, beating around the bush.

After half an hour, however, it hit me they were actually pretending. They got the file. Not in a different or unlikely place. But on the same table where the file was ought to be!

Walking out of the department, I felt a wave of sadness. Not because I bribed them for a ridiculous reason or I was the subject of their joke or my self-esteem had been hurt…No…

It just dawned on me that the contagious virus of corruption isn’t just spreading among ‘systems’ or ‘structures’ but also stabbing and infesting the very core of humanity, crumbling the very essence of our Soul.

Several questions struck me: Who were the culprits? The men whom I bribed? Or I who bribed them? Or both? Or, perhaps, the system?

                I pose these questions to you. I won’t answer them. Nor do I expect you to. These questions, believe me, are rhetoric; any answer would pave way to more questions of greater ethical dilemmas.

Perhaps, in this case, the upcoming regime of GST will act as a catalyst to cut out corruption. Because I believe that corruption even though it runs deep in the country cannot overshadow honesty.

Shadow is not without light. Honesty cannot be underrated for there are indeed the brave ones who battle bribery with their bravery; the courageous who cut corruption with their conscience. Honesty is the best policy, they say. Yet, I do feel like adding a bit more to the adage: Honesty, only if practiced, is the best policy!

(Author can be reached at Email: casauravsomani@gmail.com)

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48 responses to “Comedy of corruption! The curious case of Sale Tax Department”

  1. Umapathy S says:

    It is an indisputable fact that honest people cannot survive in politics and govt jobs.Either one has to go with the tide or quit .There are still irreducible considerable honest people who are compelled to be silent spectators is also a fact

  2. kamalakar y sawant says:

    This is the sorry state of affairs. The Government servants / offecers are may be your or mine sons, brothers or close relatives. The moment the join the services they are automatically converted We must adopt an educational system like Germany or Japan. The child , the moment jumps out of cradle must be injected with feels of honesty as far as national interest are concern The Nation first and any act detrimental to nations prosperity is anti national , that is what got to be imbibed.

  3. Mayur says:

    What the reality is when you approach Sales Tax departments, I felt like having experienced it in real world..!! You are a very good observer and writer, CA Saurav.

    Thanks for your share.

  4. M N JHA says:

    We are also responsible for it. Hope so GST will bring more transparency in tax system.
    Nice Article and Writing Skill 🙂

  5. syed says:

    the source of corruption is the only way by which black money is generated.with out stop this corruption.in all form again the black money get generated. what will the gov.do. only people who do not have source to corruption unhappy the poor and the need suffer.

  6. Niranjan says:

    I wonder how the big4 gets their work done in these kind of departments. I often hear that they never give bribe.

  7. CA AMIT GOSWAMI says:

    Well that is the reality

  8. Saurav Somani says:

    Thank you for reading! Well, it’s not my intention to expose any one, yet if one can’t raise their voice, they can write about it. Indeed there are honest people in the departments which I’ve come across…yet sometimes, the bribery cases are so grieving, you can’t just help it!

  9. Mukesh says:

    Very well crafted article, enjoyed reading and remember my days when I used to go to ROC for getting form 8 & 13 filed and registered. Giving some chai-pani and getting the work done. But now things are changed at ROC and no more Chai-pani but now full lunch to top officials. system does not change its adopt the change.

  10. JCP says:

    Kudos to Mr Saurav for portraying the dismal picture of the tax department. You go to any office whether it is Municipal Corporation, I.T. Administrative dept. etc. Scenario is more or less similar. Many a times, we find that they lack merits, and are unfamiliar with the very subject for which they are appointed.
    Let us hope after the introduction of GST such episode tapers and wanes out slowly after reforms. Wishful thinking of course…

  11. Amit Goel Advocate says:

    This is the reality of the corrupt system.

  12. R Balakrishnan says:

    Corruption is what unifies India from Kargil to Kanyakumari and Dibrugarh to Mumbai. If Modi can kill this monstor generations will revere him. There are simple but effective methods to do that.

  13. PS Dhingra says:

    Indeed a reality of life, which the author has perfectly jotted down here.

  14. Devang says:

    Good Article. If you are really fighting with this you are a great man. But remember, you will invite
    Blood Pressure at the age of 35, which I have.

  15. Devang says:

    Good Article. If you are really figiting with this you are a great man. But remember, you will invite
    Blood Pressure at the age of 35, which I have.

  16. Manish Sachdeva says:

    C form is the most dumbest thing to have happened in the history of human civilization

  17. Atul Sarkar says:

    this is happening in every state in india . i am so much bewildered what to do with this corrupt people and they are so much degraded. that they do not feel shame for doing this . i think if we would like to come out we should come together and fight against them . my appeal to all the CA . you people are recognize. and respectable in the society . and do some thing together then only we can come out from this corruption .

  18. RK NAIR says:

    This happens in everyone’s life. Strict rules, accountability at each level and time bound disposal be ensured. Punishment should be tha oand dear of the day for deliberate failures.

  19. SUNIL GAIKWAD says:

    I think if we as custodian of our domains do not exhibit professional & become “agentsi” in the hands of corrupt system, India will never be free of this treachery. In fact we would be digging the graves further for the common man.

    In a nutshell, do quality work, do not compromise on paper-work, educate the client & authorities timely & be careful before you become a pray.

  20. Anitha says:

    Hope that atleast GST will rectify the bribe system

  21. Pallavi says:

    Well Said..Its the plight of all professionals including us..

  22. CA Amit K. Ganar says:

    Well Expressed CA Saurav

    This is the routine job of most of the CAs. However I would like to also express my views on the same as I am also practising from last 7 years.

    1. Do your job on time
    2. It must be without any laps on part of clerical mistakes etc
    3. Must have a courage to say No when first time some on ask for bribe
    4. Wait for couple of times keep saying NO
    5. In most of the cases your work will done its my personal experience
    6. Officers who took bribe are coward they fear to honest dealers and practitioners
    7. If possible keep mailing ground realities to Commissioner level directly or additional by mail, they has to take cognisance of such things when received by formal communication channels such as mails.

    I don’t want to comment on who is responsible but I know that we as CAs can change the face of the scenario. Make your mind to oppose bribe as we are the best suited people to deal with VAT and IT departments.

    Jai Hind…………….

    • SUNIL GAIKWAD says:

      Amitji, Iam proud of your stand on this issue. Its only subject experts who can change the internal system as the maximum of money changes hand through them. First time No might tread a difficult path but the journey is satisfying & meaningful.

      So say “No” as many time as its possible

  23. pradeep says:

    Sir, actually it is the accounting system we maintain for our work and services. By advent of computers, internet, core banking, electronic filing of returns, cashless payments etc the gamut of inefficiency n corruption has been curtailed but we have developed via media to bribery or chai-pani practices. Therefore if cashless transactions are promoted, economic laws consolidated like GST, we can certainly hold the corruption & economic crime in controllable limits.

  24. MONISH says:

    Dear Mr.Sourav,
    It’s indeed a true picture of the system.Will GST be able to improve these conditions??.I also faced a similar situation with the UPCL but the Managing Director,UPCL came to my rescue.Appreciate your effort to highlight the issue.

  25. Radhakrishna Rao H says:

    Sir, In Karnataka the process of issuing C form is online. In fact after online computerization, the need to visit VAT office has considerably reduced.

  26. Leela Pillai says:

    Very true Mr. Saurav. In Sales Tax office (may be in other offices also, I am not aware), from the peon to higher authority, everybody (90%) takes bribes for c forms, assessments, refunds, etc. etc. without which no work will be done.

  27. KARTHIK says:

    Hi All, Please don’t say Govt. Officials only corrupted. More than 80% people are corrupted only. If our people are not corrupted, why Lalu ruling Bihar, Sasikala ruling Tamil Nadu. Before we show one finger and ask to any thing to others… first answer remaining 4 fingers which are showing to you…. Why here Professionals are paying amount because if delay client will shout… why so many people (not all) voting to corrupted people (by taking 500 or based caste or based on no alternative). Now the situation is Corruption can not be eliminate as people want there work should complete asap by any way… so officials also taking advantage on that…. Better don’t speak more than this….

  28. Pawan says:

    This is India behind the curtain. For Small it is chai – pani for big it is DEKH LENA.
    To change this we need to remove money as the social barometer. Intelligent people should be respected not people who have money (may be ill-gotten).

  29. Gaurav says:

    This must me the case of UP VAT Department. they exactly work in this fashion. Thanks for lighting up issue… there should be debate on this issue

  30. Nalini Salian says:

    Well expressed!!..

  31. SRIKANT AGARWAL says:

    The situation in central acts like service tax, excise, custom etc are much better.
    Only the state VAT/ sales tax offices are little bit slow and ask for this chai-pani. But over a period of time this has reduced significantly and all the credit goes to digitisation.

  32. Amish Gaurav says:

    you would a video of whole story, that happened to you, clearly iondicationg the exoresiion of the so called higher authority, asking you, to give them some chai pani…
    Its not them, and not actually the system, somewhr, We are the Culprits.
    Its only, what I feel about the matter.

  33. SPSR & ASSOCIATES says:

    WELL SAID. ONLINE APPLICATIONS ARE ONLY A EYEWASH. ONLINE VAT REGISTRATION IS OF NO USE AS APPLICATIONS GET REJECTED FOR SILLY DEFECT MEMOS . FINALLY, VAT TIN IS ISSUED ONLY AFTER WE VISIT THE OFFICE PERSONALLY AND GIVE CHAI PANI.

  34. RAJENDRA AGRAWAL says:

    Mr. GHANSHYAM TOSHNIWAL

    We can get on line if we request c form in due time. If there is no technical issue otherwise contact to department Like When forcefully approval required. No sale in related quarter etc. In case of earlier demand one time request required,Many time office deny online forms due to No monthly tax paid even if input balance there.

  35. Deepanshu goel says:

    It’s really the thing which does happens in most of the Govt. departments.

  36. manisha says:

    well stated Mr. somani!!!!

  37. AV says:

    These offices whether of Sales tax, RTOs or Income Tax divisions are den of bribery where not a single leaf is moved without paying for ‘chai-pani’. These offices and associated systems must be fully made computerised with on-line transactions without needing any personal intervention in order to minimise corruptions.

  38. Rajashekar says:

    Yes even I am also having same experience with lot of pain!!!!!!

  39. Amit says:

    Dear CA Saurav,

    What you have faced is very common in this department, It happen like a daily ritual every day and with everybody.
    Your CA fraternity is very big indeed, in my opinion such a reputed organization could do a lot in this regard. it is indeed commendation that you have discussed this issue whereas others are not finding enough courage to think about it.
    This has become a menace and unbearable as it is getting compounded many times.
    Once again I really appreciate that you have raised this issue.

  40. C M Doshi says:

    This is the eperience at sales Tax Office ever day and the main thing is that the officers are only interested in those persons and dealers who contact them on their terms, We experience the same thing in Mofessial areas like Solapur.

  41. Meenal says:

    Dear Sir

    Your article is expressed my views when I visit the departments… I feel even in GST this wont be resolved as now any company turnover above 5cr will be handled by both state as well as central so harassment will be more…I read somewhere govt will punish officials for not doing their work and reward if done in time…maybe this will be implemented in next 70 years… Mr Modi should harass these officials and not honest citizen in name of demonetization.

  42. gutty Prakasam says:

    This is not a big one. In courts the files were missing and no one bother for the same.

  43. GHANSHYAM TOSHNIWAL says:

    Your story is bluff as C forms are available electronically everywhere.
    You need not have to go to department for C forms.
    All basic issues like C forms, filling of VAT returns even filling of IT returns, passport applications and many more are available on line then you are visiting department is not believable. Sorry, bribing has become habit of past, middlemen encourages it as they also get some share.
    India Government is pressing for digitalisation for what.
    And when you people will stop all this ?

    • A. Joseph Arputharaj says:

      Sir, In Tamilnadu, Manual C forms will be issued upto 31-03-2017. When the system fails to generate C forms, then there is no alternative than to run behind these bureaucrats.

  44. Ranjani says:

    Mr. CA Saurav Somani, People who work in the government departments are cheap people. We, being professionals need to take initiative to curtail these corrupted iditos

  45. Prakash says:

    True picture of system

  46. Murthy says:

    Well that is the reality

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