More than 200 IAS officers have failed to stick to an extended government deadline requiring them to submit their annual property returns, exposing them to a bar on their next promotion and the crucial vigilance clearance.
This is the first time that the government has decided to crack the whip on officers of the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) who violate the rule that requires them to submit their immovable property returns as on January 1 every year.
"It had been decided that officers who do not submit the property return in time would be denied vigilance clearance and will not be considered for promotion and empanelment for senior level posts," an official at the department of personnel and training said, referring to an April decision.
V Narayanasamy, minister of state (Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions) said all cadre authorities had been told to call for explanation of officers, who had not submitted their returns so far.
Government sources said there were 208 IAS officers who hadn't yet submitted their property returns. The remaining 4,128 officers had complied with the instructions.
All central government officers are required to submit their Immovable Property Returns (IPRs) latest by January 31 every year. But since a negligible number of officers filed the returns on time, the deadline was extended four to five times. The last one expired in July but the bureaucracy is not particularly being sticky about the dates for its fellow colleagues.
Government sources said the move to take punitive action was a fall out of the decision to put property returns in public domain.
As long as the property returns were considered secret, no one asked any questions about the number of officers who actually submitted their returns. The central government had earlier this year decided to put the property returns in public domain.
By convention, the property returns were routinely put away in files and scrutinised only when a vigilance or corruption case was launched against the officer concerned to nail them.
Government officials said the bar on promotions for defaulters wasn't as harsh as it sounded. "If we were to look at the delay as a violation of the conduct rules, a penalty should
have been imposed on the defaulters," he said.