Battling a series of scams and allegations of corruption at the highest levels of government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday reminded his entire cabinet of their responsibility to declare their business interests, assets and liabilities.
The PM’s directive includes cabinet ministers, their spouses and dependents as well. It also now applies to ministers in state governments. Since 2010, such information with respect to cabinet ministers was made accessible to the public under the Right to Information Act.At the Centre, the information will be provided to the Prime Minister and at the state level to the chief minister by the end of August, a letter written by cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar to all central ministers and chief ministers says.
The timing of the letter is being seen as a signal to Dayanidhi Maran, former telecom and now textiles minister. Allegations that Maran, as telecom minister, favoured associates with telecom licences and spectrum are being investigated, though Maran has denied all the charges against him.
In his last declaration to the PM, Maran had not disclosed his or his family’s business interests. He had only disclosed information about his equity shares in DK Enterprises Private Limited and Reliance Industries and in a social organisation set up in the name of his late father Murasoli Maran.
The cabinet secretary’s letter is much more exhaustive than the first such initiative on transparency taken in May 2009, when Singh took over as Prime Minister for the second time.
For the first time, information regarding employment of any family members of the ministers with foreign government in India or abroad or foreign organizations has been sought.
“Where the wife or a dependent of a minister is already in such (foreign establishment) employment, the matter should be reported to the Prime Minister for decision whether the employment should or should not continue. As a general rule, there should be total prohibition on employment with a foreign mission,” the letter said.
Singh on Monday had said the government was serious about tacking corruption at all levels, and the June 2 letter is one such move.
A group of ministers has already submitted its recommendations on restrictions to be imposed on discretionary quota of the ministers.