When it comes to transparency, the country's elite class, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), has shied away from disclosing information about their assets. However, lesser mortals such as the Indian Forests Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) have no problems with the disclosure.
The government had recently asked the three services — IAS, IFS and IPS — whether they would want to reveal assets of its officials under the Right To Information Act.
Although the IAS officers failed to respond even after four months, IPS and IFS officers agreed to the idea.
The IPS and IFS were prompt with their agreement, but the IAS failed to submit its opinion, despite reminders.
“Our officers have nothing to hide,” said a former office-bearer of the IFS Officers’ Association in Delhi. “We want that people should know how much we earn as compared to other services even though we all clear the same (civil service) examination.”
The question came after Supreme Court judges and Union council of ministers agreed to divulge their assets, and the Central Information Commission wanted to know about the services’ opinion.
Although it is among the most powerful services in the country's administrative network — over 90% of secretary levels posts in the central government are with the IAS officers — the IAS is reluctant on transparency, especially about information of personal kind.
The IAS officers’ association said it was not against transparency, but wanted to adopt a more democratic process to adopt a key change. Therefore, the association has sought views of all state-level associations, unlike the national bodies for other two services, which decided at their own level.
Though the information sought is already with the government, the law says such information can be disclosed only after the officials concerned consent to make it public.
Until now, only select IAS officers have permitted disclosure of their assets.
Even retired IAS officers who were re-employed, were reluctant to allow public’s assess to information about their assets. None of the retired IAS officers in the CIC, and the Election Commission, agreed to put their assets on the commissions’ websites saying “no government rule prescribes such declaration”.