A Wonderful Government Officer

This article is a reader contribution. Our reader Neeraja Raghavan talks about her tryst with a wonderful Government officer, breaking the myth that everyone out there is inefficient. Read on in her own words:

I was told by my auditor that IT returns of quite a high amount (above Rs 25K) were due to me, from the filing of tax returns for the financial year 2007-2008.

Although these had been filed before 31st July 2008, and the returns are supposed to ‘automatically’ get credited into one’s account after six months, my auditor told me: “Madam! This is the most corrupt department in the country! The officer handling this told me he wants a 2% cut.”

“Bribe?” I asked.

“Yes, madam,” was his answer.

“I am not going to bribe,” I replied.

“Then, Madam, it will take more than 2 years,”he replied.

I said ok, let it take as long as it takes, but I refused to bribe anyone.

Nevertheless, I filed a grievance on some website in December 2008, when 6 months elapsed, but apart form getting a fancy and instant acknowledgement on the website with a registration no:, nothing further happened. (Needless to say, every attempt of mine to get the name of the bribe seeking IT officer from my auditor failed utterly.)

Well, I had an eventful day about two months ago.

Hot as the afternoon was, I decided to invest some of my sleepy time at work, in telephoning the IT department. So I went onto the Net and searched for every telephone no: there is for IT officers in Bangalore.

From the lowest to the highest: that is my usual thumb rule in such cases. So I patiently telephoned from the lowest rung in the ladder to the highest.

Firstly, every single number of the fifteen EPABX numbers rang off the hook, with no one even bothering to pick up the receiver.
Secondly, the PRO cell by some fortuitous chance, managed to tell me which ward/range my PAN number came under, so that helped in my further tracking.
Very knowledgeably, I then began asking for the IT officer in charge of my Range, if at all I was lucky enough to have a human voice answer me at the other end.

Now this went on and on from 2 to 3:30 pm, after which I was emboldened enough to go all the way upto the COMMISSIONER in charge of my Range, and listen to this: at 3:30 I was told by his peremptory secretary: “He has gone for lunch and will be back at 4:30 pm. No, I don’t know his e-mail address.” I laughed: for if an officer goes for lunch saying he will return at 4:30 pm, you can be sure he will not return for the day, for don’t all Government offices close at sharp 5 pm?
Well, I made good use of the time between 3:30 and 4:30 pm, and managed to get the e-mail address of this commissioner, from his colleague, yet another commissioner in charge of yet another range/ward. (Madam, I am sorry this does not fall under my jurisdiction…OK sir, could you please tell me whose jurisdiction it does fall under? And would you be so kind as to give me his e-mail address?)

I mopped the sweat off my brow and sent off an e-mail to the lunching Commissioner, and no sooner did the clock strike 4:30 pm than I called up his office. Very reluctantly, his secretary handed him the telephone.
I explained my problem. I took care to also add that all EPABX numbers were just ringing off their hooks, and since I could not reach the concerned officer, I was sorry but I had no option but to bother a high up person like him.

He not only listened to me patiently, he also asked me if I would be interested in exposing the officer who purportedly asked for a bribe (to which I said sure, but since I only had my auditor’s word without a name for it, I really had no authentic proof).

“I am only doing my job” he said when I thanked him for his work

Then he noted down all my contact numbers, and called me back within 15 minutes.
He explained that due to some new system of computerisation, there had been enormous delay in processing of 2007-8 returns, and I was amongst 80% or more tax payers who were still waiting for the refund.
He said that despite this, since I had been inconvenienced to such a degree, he had arranged for my returns to be credited into my account right away. (He also clarified that the bribe angle could not have much truth in it, as there were so many whose dues were pending, so my auditor could well have been voicing his won desire! I agreed that this could well be the case.)

Further, he said the EPABX was indeed not responding as he had himself tried the telephone nos and found my experience to be his as well. He said he was looking into this as well.
All this happened on that one day. Now, I am not only in receipt of the full money (with interest), my attempts to thank the concerned officer have met with embarassed brush offs! “I am only doing my job!” he said.

So there are good Government officers, too! And it has been my good fortune to encounter one such!

Above article written by Neeraja Raghavan. Thanks!

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