Terming as "misleading" Delhi government's claims that it was making efforts to fill up vacancies in its Department of Trade and Taxes (DVAT), the Delhi High Court asked the Principal Secretary (Services) to appear before it and explain the situation.
Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Deepa Sharma pointed to "mismatch in figures" of the vacancies which gave a "misleading picture" on the entire situation.
The High Court arrived at the finding as the number of vacancies for the post of Value Added Tax Officer (VATO) and Additional Value Added Tax Officer (AVATO), as indicated by the government, did not include those officials who were posted to other departments on notional basis.
"The claim that only 18 vacancies exist in the cadre of VATO is facially incorrect if one were to notice that there are as many as 35 officers who are posted notionally for pay purposes and continue to discharge their responsibilities in the other departments that they are presently occupying.
"The mismatch in figures, in the opinion of the court, gives a misleading picture that the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi is making constant endeavours to fill all the vacancies in the various cadres of the DVAT department," the bench said after perusing the list of vacancies submitted by the government.
Directing the Principal Secretary (Services) of Delhi government to be present in court on the next date of hearing, the bench also asked the bureaucrat to file an affidavit indicating the actual number of officers working in the cadres of VATO and AVATO from September 2016 and what was meant by 'notional posting for pay purposes'.
The bench noted that over 1.48 lakh refund claims were pending in the department from September, 2016.
The court said it was constrained to pass the order as a large number of refund applications were pending in the DVAT department which upon enquiry was "found to be caused by the considerable number of vacancies" in the posts of VATO, AVATO and other staff.
The court was hearing a plea by a firm on the issue of
delay in disposal of its application claiming VAT refund.
The Principal Secretary was also directed to indicate in the affidavit "the steps taken to fill the vacancies on regular basis with cadre officers and furthermore, the requisitions made to the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB), the recruiting agency."
The Principal Secretary was also asked to indicate the level of cooperation received from DSSSB whose Chairman has also been asked to appear before the court on April 21, the next date of hearing.
The Chairman of DSSSB was also asked to file an affidavit regarding the requests sent by the DVAT Department for filling up of pending vacancies, especially over the last three years and the current stage of such recruitment.