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Government servants reluctant to declare assets, DoPT backs them

Lokpal act hurdle As govt departments differ, several options on the table; PM to take final call

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Updated: November 2, 2014 9:14 am
modi-main Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The NDA government’s move to amend the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 in the coming winter session of Parliament has run into rough weather following differences between various government departments over whether government servants and their family members should declare their assets, and whether such information should be made public or not. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is learnt to have sided with the bureaucracy in challenging the contentious provision.

Under the law, public servants are required to declare their immovable property as well as movable assets like vehicles, cash in hand/bank, gold and other jewellery, investments in shares, bonds and mutual funds etc. They must also submit this information about their family members to the government.

Sources told The Sunday Express that differences on the issue came to the fore during a recent meeting held to finalise the proposed amendments to the Act. Since the differences remain unresolved, the matter is being referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a final decision. The Prime Minister is also in charge of the Ministry of Personnel, which is the administrative ministry for all affairs concerning the proposed anti-corruption ombudsman.

After various associations of civil servants, including the IAS and IPS, sent representations seeking amendment to the provision relating to declaration of assets, arguing that the security of their family members could be compromised if such details are made public, the government had earlier extended the deadline for filing the declarations till December 31.

While sources privy to the discussions said the DoPT is supporting the bureaucracy, some other departments are of the view that if the demand of the civil servants is accepted, elected political representatives could also raise similar demands.

During discussions within the government, three options were laid out but no final decision was taken. The options are:

* Details of only immovable assets of public servants should be made public. Details of the officer’s movable assets as well as the assets of his/ her spouse and children should be kept in a sealed cover, to be opened only during investigations/ official proceedings against the officer.

* All details of assets — movable and immovable — should be kept in a sealed cover.

* It should be mandatory for government officials to declare their assets, but not that of their family members.

The Law Ministry, it is learnt, has suggested that rather than amending the relevant provision of the Act to deal with the issue, suitable changes should be incorporated in the relevant rules to achieve the purpose.

However, a strong section within the government feels that any move to water down the provision could send a “wrong” signal about the intentions of the government, especially since it rode to power on a strong anti-corruption plank.

A petition filed by the wife of a government officer is also pending in the Delhi High Court. The petitioner, who is employed in an IT company, has challenged the constitutionality of the provision, contending it is violation of her fundamental rights.

“The Prime Minister will most likely take the final call on this issue. There is some merit in all the arguments and it will essentially be a political decision. But there is general consensus that any amendments will have to be introduced in the coming session,” said a source.

The source said it has been decided to amend the Act to allow the leader of the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha to be part of the Lokpal selection panel committee. Another amendment will ensure that even if some members of the selection committee are not able to participate in the meetings, the panel would continue to function.

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  1. S
    simpson james
    Apr 14, 2015 at 8:42 pm
    I welcome the declaration of ets by the public servants, if they have corrupt money the money should be seized. Para 45 of the Lokpal and lok ayuktha act says that non-declaration of ets by public servant would deem the et to be earned as "corrupt" money. But it is to be kept in mind that the govt. employee has to go by the declaration given by his spouse regarding the share of property / gold / fixed deposit which she has. If the father in law of some govt. employee has given his daughter or his g children some gold / fixed deposit / land and does not want his son -in law to know about this et ( for example the son in law is a drunkard or gambler etc. then it is not possible for the govt. servant to furnish declaration about PROPERTIES / ETS WHICH were not purchased from his money. such ets cannot be UMED TO BE CORRUPT, govt. departments should see the genuinity of such un-declared ets before harrasing honest employees by depriving him of hard earned money. Govt. employees ociations and govt. servants should ask the govt. to clarify in writing that such DRACONIAN provisions should not be used to harras employees for human and practical errors.
    1. A
      Nov 2, 2014 at 4:09 am
      Secrecy is the biggest excuse of the govt servants. Who can loot them or their relatives when they live in secured localities and have dozens of guards.PM should not accept their fake excuses.
      1. A
        Anirudh Kumar
        Nov 2, 2014 at 7:28 am
        Who is the Govt ? The Bureaucrat fold in the Govt. is the actual Govt. Will the bureaucrats (the most cleverer) ever follow the Kalidas (known as the biggest ever fool) who was cutting that branch of the tree on to which he was sitting ? Never and this proves that the bureaucrats will devise all ways and means to nullify the Act. The Bureaucrats of India who are either Head of Office or Department are the most corrupt and the juniors for sake of their service privileges like Promotion, Posting and others, easily follow him/them. In my opinion who want a check system on corruption in India, are also bigger fool. My suggestion to Govt. to consider following 02 points for implementation:(01) Senior officials/bureaucrats uses Mobile SIMs of others (persons) for any wrong doings. So implementation of Database of Voice recognition to validate calls for each and every citizen.(02) Preparation of Database of Land bank of this country. It is known to everyone that most of the black money is invested either in purchasing of land or flat/apartment. Unique ID should be there for a complete family tree to view the immovable property at a glance. Also holding of land/flat/apartment specially by Police Officials should have a comprehensive check as they use their administrative power to blackmail the people under their jurisdiction by implicating flimsy cases.
        1. J
          Jayanti BALAKRISHNA
          Nov 2, 2014 at 8:54 am
          Earlier in state bank of India where officials have not complied with filing of ets by a specific date their, ries and allowances were withheld.similar steps to be taken against beaurocrats including stoppage of increment and promotion---BKJAYANTI
          1. B
            B S
            Nov 2, 2014 at 4:23 pm
            Fix a last date to declare their ets, if not complied with seez the properties and credit the same in national wealth.
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