The Centre has warned its employees that it will initiate disciplinary action aginst them if they indulge in criticism of government policies.
The move comes after government officials, including those from the Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) and All India Association of Central Excise Gazetted Executive, suggested changes in Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN)-- a private company tasked with the creation of Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and composition of a GST council secretariat for the new tax regime,.
"Of late, it has been noticed that some associations or federations have commented adversely about the government and its policies. It may be brought to the notice of all associations or federations that if anyone indulges in criticism of the government and its policies, appropriate action (including disciplinary action) shall be taken," an order issued recently by Finance Ministry said.
It cited service rules that bar any government servant from making any adverse criticism of any policy or action of the government.
Citing existing norms, the Finance Ministry said the primary objective of the service associations is to promote common service interest of its members.
The Ministry asked chief commissioners and directors general concerned to ensure that only recognised employees associations get the benefits mentioned in the rules.
All recognised service associations or federations are entitled to benefits such as correspondence and meetings with the head of the administrative departments, accommodation facilities subject to availability, allowance of leaves up to 20 days for the association's office-bearers and allowances for attending officially sponsored meetings.
"In the case of service associations or federations, which are not recognised or whose recognition has expired, office-bearers of such associations or federations shall not be entitled for these benefits," the Finance Ministry said.
Besides service associations, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has also been opposing majority stake for private entities in GSTN and has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modiobjecting to this.
The central government holds 24.5 per cent stake in GSTN while state governments together hold another 24.5 per cent. The balance 51 per cent equity is with non-government financial institutions, like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and LIC Housing Finance.
"Management of GSTN be entrusted to Directorate General, Systems of Central Board of Excise and Customs, as GSTN is a newly created Special Purpose Vehicle, which does not have any experience in implementing any IT project or domain knowledge in Indirect Tax laws," the IRS association had said in a statement.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had recently approved 'Project Saksham' -- a new indirect tax network (systems integration) of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
The total project cost involved is Rs 2,256 crore which will be incurred over a period of seven years.