Curios case of IRS officer B Balamurugan: Suspended for demanding sacking of Nirmala Sitharaman?

IRS officer B Balamurugan suspended: In the letter, Balamurugan stated, "Ever since Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took charge, she has made the Enforcement Directorate a BJP Enforcement Directorate."

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IRS officer B Balamurugan suspended: In a surprising turn of events, Indian Revenue Service officer B Balamurugan found himself suspended just two days before his scheduled retirement on January 31. The official notice of suspension, dated January 29, did not provide explicit reasons for the disciplinary action but indicated that disciplinary proceedings had been initiated against him. The suspension follows a letter penned by Balamurugan to President Draupadi Murmu, where he openly criticized Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and called for her dismissal.

Background: Letter to the President

Balamurugan, who served as the Deputy Commissioner, Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Chennai, had written a letter to President Murmu on January 2. In the letter, he highlighted an incident from July 2023 when Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons were issued to two Dalit farmers in Tamil Nadu. These farmers, aged 72 and 67, had accused a local BJP leader of attempting an illegal land grab. Balamurugan expressed his concerns about the politicization of ED under Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's tenure.

Allegations Against Sitharaman and ED

In the letter, Balamurugan stated, "Ever since Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took charge, she has made the Enforcement Directorate a BJP Enforcement Directorate."

He pointed out that the ED had issued summons to the farmers, and their caste was mentioned, leading to a social media controversy. The ED closed the case on January 4, stating no intention to harass the farmers. Balamurugan, identifying as a Dalit himself, emphasized his understanding of the farmers' struggles.

Subsequent Actions and Speculations

Following these events, even on January 22, a day when the Central Government had offices closed for the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Balamurugan expressed his willingness to work in a letter to the Finance Minister.

Speaking with Hindustan Times, he alleged that these incidents and his refusal to observe the office closure might have led to his suspension. Balamurugan commented, "They want to teach me a lesson."

Connection with ED Case and Family Involvement

It's noteworthy that Balamurugan's wife, G Praveena, was the lawyer representing the farmers in the ED case, which has now been closed. The suspension, coupled with the sequence of events, raises questions about the motivations behind the disciplinary action against the IRS officer.

As the controversy unfolds, Balamurugan's suspension raises concerns about the space for dissent and criticism within bureaucratic ranks, especially as it comes just before his retirement.