Even though the IRS offers a better work-life balance, why do people go for hectic jobs like IAS, IFS or IPS?

I would like to answer it because I have seen one of my close friends while serving as an officer of the Indian Revenue Services. He secured his final rank in the 2016, so he has an approximately four years of experience as an IRS officer.

I really want to meet that person who at first told that there is a work and personal life balance in the Group A central services. While the Indian Administrative Services, Indian Police Services and the Indian Foreign Services are hectic and tough compared to the Indian Revenue Services. I, personally know so many income tax officials and haven't found that so called balance till now in their lives so perhaps I need some help.


It appears that there is a false perception that Indian Revenue Services is a 10 to 5 desk job but I want to drive home the very point that this perception is not true. I am going to state the condition mainly in IRS Income Tax. So, what takes away the work life balance in IRS:


Statutory time bound tasks: The work in Income Tax department is governed primarily by the Income Tax Act, 1961. Under this statutory provision, several proceedings have a time limit of completion of the work at hand. If those proceedings are not completed in that time frame then the whole proceeding becomes null and void and it may lead to revenue loss. Not completing a time-barred proceeding in the stipulated time is an unpardonable crime in the revenue services. One’s walk of life may be jeopardized if someone fails to complete a proceeding in due time limit. This makes the revenue officials to work extra hours and even on the week-offs too in order to meet the deadline. There is always eleventh-hour rush.  Income Tax officers often work till the late at night to complete the proceedings on time for they just can't delay such work for even a day later than the statutory time limit. My maternal uncle who is a senior IRS officer often come back from work at 2 AM and 3 AM at the night. This past December, my friends in the revenue services were celebrating Christmas to complete their time bound task. This is the way the revenue officials maintained their work-life balance, by celebrating their new year eve while engrossed in work in office at the midnight.


The Search and Survey proceedings: We used to hear so much about those Income-Tax raids. In professional jargon, it is called as 'Search and Seizure' to detect any income or assets which has escaped Income-Tax assessment. As thrilling as these raids are, they can be often very time taken and tiring. The Indian Revenue Services officials have to stay at the same premises for a longer period of time, may be several days to months. The officials can't leave the premises till the proceedings of survey and search is completed, they can’t go home, they have to take rest at the place where the proceedings of the search are going on. Just find for themselves a corner and they have to give rest to their brain and eyes for a few hours till their colleagues maintain vigilance on the searched premise. The paper work for the actions have been taken at the searched premises again spills very easily into their non-working hours.


The above mentioned are one of the many instances where the officials of the Indian Revenue Services have to give up their outside-work life to fulfil Service commitments. One thing needs to be realized that all the services, be it the Indian Administrative Services, Indian Police Services or the Indian Revenue Services requires day and night work commitment. This doesn't mean that these officials don't have a personal life outside work but they need to be prepared to sacrifice their countless days and nights in case the need arrives. This only gives them the higher appreciation for those moments which they get to spend with their family. But maintaining work life balance is a personal choice and one needs to be actively worked for it otherwise the enormity of work can easily bury anyone.


Jai Hind!


Gaurav Chaturvedi


Supreme Court of India

New Delhi