Updated: January 13, 2022 7:22:32 am
In what is being described by officials as a “move to check corruption” and a step towards digitisation, the J&K administration has asked all its employees submit online every year a declaration listing moveable assets, including electric and electronic household items, owned by them and their family members in cases where the value exceeds two months’ basic salary.
A notification issued by the Union Territory’s General Administration Department said that “every public servant shall bring to the notice of the prescribed authority the acquisition or transfer of movable property” with value in excess of the specified limit.
The latest instructions come in the wake of a series of measures by the administration over the past year to scrutinise the activities of its employees, including stringent parameters for verification, drawing criticism from several quarters.
Tuesday’s notification referred to amendments made to the Jammu and Kashmir Public Servants Declaration of Assets and other Provisions Rules, 1998, and listed a portal — https://prs.jk.gov.in — where the declarations need to be submitted between January 1 and January 31 each year, starting this month.
The declaration, it said, will cover “all the assets” owned by employees and their family members and lists “cash balance, saving bank deposits, shares, cash certificates, fixed deposits, debentures, security bonds, jewellery/ ornaments, and household items (electric and electronic items only)’’.
A senior official told The Indian Express that the “government has switched to online mode to ensure that all the employees file their property statements regularly and on time”.
“Earlier, they used to submit their declaration forms to their respective heads of departments against proper receipts. The new system will save the trouble of issuing a receipt to each and every employee. Also, officers at even senior levels had to be repeatedly reminded to file their annual statements earlier,” the official said.
Asked about the value cap, the official said: “In the previous rules, every employee was supposed to inform the prescribed authority about all possessions valued at more than Rs 20,000. These days, when prices are escalating, with the increase in salaries following various pay commissions, the Rs 20,000 limit is not much. So the government decided to increase it to two months’ basic salary.”
Reiterating that the move is a step against corruption, the official said: “Above all, the move will keep a check on employees amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income,” the official said.
Tuesday’s notice stated that the amendments have been made by the Lt Governor using powers conferred by Section 16 of the Act of 1983.
In June last year, J&K made it mandatory for new appointees to disclose whether their family members and close relatives are associated with any political party or has participated in any political activity, or has had links with a foreign mission or organisation, or any banned organisation.
Three months later, in September, the administration set wide-ranging parameters for “discrete verification” of its employees, including reporting of relatives whose activities may be “directly or indirectly hostile to India’s national and security interests”. Earlier that month, it mandated a vigilance clearance for its employees to obtain passports.
The latest move has been welcomed by some employees and described as “sheer harassment” by others.
“The new rule will hit those who become prosperous overnight, soon after getting a government job. Now, they will have to account for every possession,” said a government school teacher. “The government is creating complications by bringing new provisions like furnishing details of even electric and electronic equipment,” said an employee in the UT administration.
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