HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

Under the Lokpal: Babus’ asset declarations in public domain soon

Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times  New delhi, July 27, 2014
First Published: 22:15 IST(27/7/2014) | Last Updated: 22:36 IST(27/7/2014)

The government has given itself a 90-day breather to implement transparency provisions under the Lokpal law and has set September 15 as the deadline for government servants to file their assets and liabilities declaration.

Under the Lokpal law, all government servants irrespective of their rank will have to declare their assets and liabilities every year.

The assets declarations for central government employees will be put in public domain.

Government sources said orders were issued for giving officials some more time since conduct rules for different services and ranks were yet to be finalised in light of the suggestions received from various cadre controlling authorities.

On its part, the department of personnel and training (DoPT) has laid down the process and finalised the ground rules to be followed by public servants in this regard.

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013 had made it mandatory for every public servant to make the annual declaration and not just senior officials, as required under existing provisions.

Under rules notified by DoPT last week, the competent authority would have discretion to exempt public servants from declaring assets valued at less than four months’ basic salary or `2 lakh.

Government officials said the exemption clause had been incorporated so that the exercise to improve transparency did not end up harassing public servants.

The DoPT also has adapted declaration forms for assets and liabilities filed by candidates in Lok Sabha and assembly elections to enlarge the scope of the forms.

“The original version of the forms left room for officials to provide vague information or skip certain information. This would not be possible in the new formats,” a government official said, pointing to provisions that require officials to declare the weight and value of jewellery owned by them, spouse and dependents.

The practice of government officials declaring their assets — and information about their immovable assets being made public — is only a couple of years old.

Babudom had earlier stalled recommendations by several panels to make assets of officials public, citing intrusion of their privacy.

On the defensive in the wake of a spirited anti-corruption campaign, the UPA had, however, pushed through the recommendation.

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