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Rules for Assets and Liabilities Disclosure notified under the Lokpal Act and Lokayuktas Act 2014

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karira

From an email received from Venkatesh Nayak:

 

Dear all,

 

The media has reported today about the Rules notified by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for the filing of information and annual returns relating to assets and liabilities for all public servants covered by theLokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 (1st attachment).

 

What is good about this notification?

1) The notification of these Rules is a step forward from the statutory requirement under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Readers will remember that under Section 4(1(b)(x) of this law, every public authority is required to proactively disclose details of salary paid and the compensation package offered to every civil servant who is its employee. However there was no statutory compulsion on civil servants to publicly disclose information about their movable and immovable properties inherited or acquired. So several RTI users demanded the publication of this information under the RTI Act by filing formal requests. While some Information Commissions ordered disclosure of information contained in the immovable property returns submitted by civil servants every year, others rejected the request upholding the official's right to privacy. In at least one case, an RTI activist in southern India who sought such information about a senior level officer, had to be provided gunman security as the request snowballed into a public altercation between the two.

 

The matter of disclosure of assets related information was settled, rather unsatisfactorily by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs Cen. Information Commr. and Anr. (2013) 1SCC 212. In that case the Apex Court ruled that unless the RTI applicant is able to demonstrate the public interest in disclosure, every public servant is entitled to confidentiality vis-a-vis his/her assets related details. The new Rules notified by the Government of India known as Public Servants (Furnishing of Information and Annual Return of Assets and Liabilities and the Limits for Exemption of Assets in Filing Returns) Rules, 2014 (PSAR Rules) require every public servant to make a declaration attaching details of his/her assets as well as those of his/her spouse and dependent children to the competent authority within 30 days of taking an oath of making an affirmation for entering public office. Thereafter he/she must submit annual returns for every financial year by 31st July of the very next financial year. The Rules contain an Appendix setting forth the form of declaration and the manner of disclosure of both movable and immovable assets. The public servant must also disclose details of loans taken by self, spouse or dependent children. These declarations and submissions will be made to the competent authority in every public authority.

 

These Rules render a portion of the judgement of the Apex Court in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande obsolete. Section 44(6) of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act requires the competent authority which receives assets and liabilities related information of public servants to make them public through websites by the end of August every year. If this information is not available on the respective websites, a citizen may seek this information formally under the RTI Act from the public authority.

 

2) Members of Parliament submit their assets and liabilities details to the Chairpersons of the respective Houses under the respective Rules adopted in 2004 (2nd and 3rd attachment). However access to these statements was not easy as disclosure to strangers was left to the discretion of the Chairpersons. These details were not easily available under the RTI Act either. Now this discretionary power is done away with thanks to Section 44 of the Lokpal Act. This provision contains mandatory disclosure of assets and liabilities details of all public servants including that of MPs. This is another progressive step towards developing a culture of personal integrity for holders of elected offices.

 

What is problematic about this notification?

1) Section 44 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (Lokpal Act) covers three kinds of statutory disclosures-

 

a) When a public servant enters his/her office upon being sworn by oath or affirmation.

 

b) Serving public servants are required to make disclosures of their assets and liabilities within 30 days of the enforcement of this Act.

 

c) Later on, all public servants must disclose details of their assets and liabilities as well as that of their spouse and dependent children every year.

 

Rule 3 of the PSAR Rules states that the templates contained in Appendices I and II are to be used for filing all three kinds of returns listed above. However all the templates in Appendix II of the PSAR are titled "Return" or "Statement" to be filed on "First Appointment". While this will serve the purpose of the first statutory requirement of disclosure for new recruits, it is wrongly titled for the next two categories of officers who will make disclosures every year and upon the enforcement of this Act. This confusion in the title of the declaration and statements of movable and immovable properties must be removed immediately and appropriately titled forms must be released for each category.

 

2) The Lokpal Act covers all categories of public servants in Section 14. These include the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Members of Parliament, civil servants, employees and managers of public sector undertakings, universities, boards, trusts and societies or autonomous bodies wholly or partly financed by the Central Government and any organisation which receives foreign contribution of more than Rs. 10 lakh per year (USD 1,6950 where 1USD= INR59) under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010. The Prime Minister is the competent authority for receiving declarations of assets and liabilities of the Union Ministers as per the Code of Conduct adopted first in 1964 and revised later in 1992 (4th attachment). This Code does not require the Prime Minister to disclose his/her assets to anybody. However, Section 44 read with Section 14 of the Lokpal Act requires the Prime Minister also to publicly declare his/her assets. So the Government will have to notify who the competent authority shall be to receive the PM's first declaration and subsequent annual returns under this Act and make them accessible to the public. Perhaps it should be the President as he alone is higher in the executive hierarchy to the PM. GoI must issue a clarification on this issue. It is not clear if the templates notified by the DoPT are intended for the use of 'public servants' other than 'civil servants'

 

The larger issue will be securing compliance in the non-governmental organisations in the social and voluntary sector which receive foreign funding above Rs. 10 lakh per year. Their directors managers, and officers will also have to make disclosures of their assets and liabilities to the competent authority in such organisations. These will have to be made public on their respective websites. However, there is no clear cut mechanism in the Lokpal Act to ensure such compliance.

 

3) According to the text of the gazette notification of the Rules, it was to be published in Official Gazette on 14th July, 2014. However this set of Rules is not uploaded either in the Ordinary Gazette Section or the Extraordinary Gazette Section of the E-gazette website of GoI. I tried looking for it but could not find it. If readers are able to find it on the E-Gazette website, kindly let me know and I will issue a corrigendum.

 

 

4) These Rules do not come up under the 'What's New' Segment of DoPT's website either. Instead it is tucked away in the Circular Portal of GoI which is password protected. However readers may access it through Google by keying in the complete title of the Rules. The link is: http://ccis.nic.in/WriteReadData/CircularPortal/D2/D02ser/MX-M452N_20140716_172536.pdf

 

The Government of India ought to have advertised these Rules in a big way as it is such a novel step forward in bringing about more accountability and transparency in the functioning of the bureaucracy. Integrity systems will be strengthened through such disclosures. However the quiet manner in which this Rule has been notified is perplexing to say the least. Nevertheless, all credit must go to the State Government of Bihar for taking such a step for its public servants in 2011. Starting with the Chief Minister and down to the clerical staff, every public servant was required to publicly declare their assets and liabilities annually. However this practice seems to have died out after two years because the assets related information on this website has not been updated since 2013. Readers may check this fact for themselves at: Asset Declaration

 

 

 

Kindly circulate this email widely.

 

 

 

 

Thanks

 

 

Venkatesh NayakProgramme Coordinator

Access to Information Programme

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

B-117, 1st Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave

New Delhi- 110 017

LokSabha-MPsAssetsDecl-Rules-2004.pdf

RajyaSabha-MPsAssetsDecl-Rules-2004.pdf

Code of conduct for Ministers.pdf

Lokpal-PublicServants-Assets&LiabilitiesRules-2014.pdf

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karira

Now, govt. staff will have to declare assets annually

 

Its now mandatory for government servants to declare their assets annually. Section 4 of the RTI Act mandated transparency only in terms of their salary and compensation. Strangely, the new rules have not been pubicised

 

Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act mandates that salaries and compensation packages of government servants including officers from Indian Administrative Service/ Indian Police Service (IAS/IPS) cadre, be put up on the website of the relevant public authority. The notification issued last week by the Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT) should come as a shock for government employees who have been amassing wealth, beyond their means. They will need to declare their assets by September this year and then by March or July, every year.

 

Every government employee is now required to file his annual returns pertaining to assets and liabilities, along with that of his wife and children, on a newly drafted declaration form. The notification is a sequel to the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013. The rules are termed as Public Servants (Furnishing of Information and Annual Return of Assets and Liabilities and the Limits for Exemption of Assets in Filing Returns) Rules, 2014.

As per the notification by the DoPT, this declaration has to be made by every government servant over and above other declarations as per his/ her services rules.

 

Section 3 (2) states...

(1) Every public servant shall make a declaration of his assets and liabilities under sub-section (1) of section 44 in the format specified in Appendix-1, along with information required under sub-section (2) or as the case may be, sub-section (3) and the annual return under sub-section (4) of section 44 in Forms I to IV specified in Appendix-II.

 

Every public servant shall file declaration, information or return, as the case may be, regarding his assets and liabilities as on the 31st of March every year, to the competent authority as referred to in clause © of sub-section (1) of section 2 on or before the 31st of July of that year.

 

Provided that the public servants who have filed declarations, information and annual returns of property under the provisions of the rules applicable to such public servants shall file the revised declarations, information or as the case may be, annual returns as on the 1st day of August 2014, to the competent authority on or before the 15th day of September, 2014.

 

The exemption clause is: “(4) minimum value of assets which competent authority may exempt from furnishing of information - …..if the value of such asset does not exceed four months basic pay of the public servant or Rs2 lakh, whichever is higher.’’

 

While this notification is the ultimate step towards transparency, Venkatesh Nayak, research scholar and activist, who has been working on matters about laws relating to transparency states that, this notification is deliberately not being made public and publicized. He says “According to the text of the gazette notification of the Rules, it was to be published in the Official Gazette on 14 July 2014. However this set of Rules has not been uploaded either in the Ordinary Gazette Section or the Extraordinary Gazette Section of the E-gazette website of govt of India (GoI). These Rules do not come up under the 'What's New' Segment of DoPT's website either. Instead, it is tucked away in the Circular Portal of GoI, which is password protected. However, readers may access it through Google by keying in the complete title of the Rules.”

 

The notification is of prime importance, considering that RTI applicants used to be stonewalled when they filed applications to procure information on disproportionate assets of government servants. Some of them used to file second appeals, while some Information Commissions ordered disclosure of information contained in the immovable property returns submitted by civil servants every year, others rejected the request upholding the official's right to privacy.

 

“In at least one case, an RTI activist in southern India who sought such information about a senior level officer, had to be provided armed security as the request snowballed into a public altercation between the two,” Nayak said.

 

Who else does the notification cover?

 

As per Nayak’s study these Rules cover every public servant. He says, “The Lokpal Act covers all categories of public servants in Section 14. These include the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Members of Parliament, civil servants, employees and managers of public sector undertakings, universities, boards, trusts and societies or autonomous bodies wholly or partly financed by the Central Government and any organisation which receives foreign contribution of more than Rs10 lakh per year ($16,950 where 1$= Rs59) under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA).

 

Does PM come under this notification?

 

According to Nayak, the Prime Minister is the competent authority for receiving declarations of assets and liabilities of the Union Ministers as per the Code of Conduct adopted first in 1964 and revised later in 1992 (4th attachment). “This Code does not require the Prime Minister to disclose his/ her assets to anybody. However, Section 44 read with Section 14 of the Lokpal Act, requires the Prime Minister also to publicly declare his/ her assets. So the Government will have to notify who the competent authority shall be to receive the PM's first declaration and subsequent annual returns under this Act and make them accessible to the public. Perhaps it should be the President as he alone is higher in the executive hierarchy to the PM. GoI must issue a clarification on this issue. It is not clear if the templates notified by the DoPT are intended for the use of 'public servants' other than 'civil servants',” he added.

 

Certainly, citizens would be looking forward to details of assets of government servants coming out in the public domain. Moneylife had recently carried a story on thedisproportionate assets of Pune’s Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh. No action has been taken on this yet. He continues in his position and there are thousands of such cases all over India. Will the scenario change?

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jj99
From an email received from Venkatesh Nayak: Dear all, The media has reported today about the Rules notified by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for the filing of information and annual returns relating to assets and liabilities for all public servants covered by theLokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 (1st attachment). Kindly circulate this email widely. Venkatesh NayakProgramme Coordinator Access to Information Programme Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative B-117, 1st Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave New Delhi- 110 017[/font][/color]
link for http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2014/160323.pdf gazette notification on this topic

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rtivenkat

So can we ask the asset details of state government employee through RTI now, with introduction of this new bill or only central government employees.

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balaraghavan

Hon'ble members kindly enlighten me whether the Lokpal bill signed by the President on 02.01.14, notified in Gazette of India. If yes, I request to attach this Gazette Notification.

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jj99

check this

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karira

Lokpal rule on declaration of assets of babus’ wives stayed by Delhi high court

 

NEW DELHI: In Lokpal Act's first brush with courts, the Delhi high court on Tuesday stayed one of its rules on public declaration of assets of spouses and dependent children of government employees.

 

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Vipin Sanghi directed that information on asset liabilities of spouses or dependent children will not be revealed to the public by government departments. It said such information will only be furnished to respective departments in a sealed cover.

 

Read More: Lokpal rule on declaration of assets of babus? wives stayed by Delhi high court - The Economic Times

 

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karira

The last date for submitting assets has been extended till 31 December 2014:

 

 

F. No. 21/2/2014-CS.I(PR)

Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions

Department of Personnel & Training

CS.I Division

2hd Floor, Lok Nayak Bhawan,

New Delhi,

dated 9th September 2014

OFFICE MEMORANDUM

Subject: The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 – Submission of declaration of Assets and Liabilities by the public servants.The undersigned is to refer to this Division’s OM of even number dated 31st July 2014 regarding furnishing of information relating to assets and liabilities by public servants under section 44 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

 

2. The Government has since amended the Public Servants (Furnishing of Information and Annual Return of Assets and Liabilities and the Limits for Exemption of Assets in Filing Returns) Rules, 2014 vide Notification dated 8.9.2014, in terms of which, the last date for filing returns of assets and liabilities by all public servants has been revised from 15th September 2014 to 31st December 2014.

 

3. All CSS Officers may take note of the revised time-limit for filing of aforementioned returns. Ministries/Departments are also requested to forward the declarations, information,‘ returns submitted by US and above level officers of CSS to CS.I Division of DOPT for records.

sd/-

(Utkaarsh R Tiwari)

Director

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vinayakj

Does Contract Worker / appointee / employee is covered under these rules

 

Section 14(1)(f) of Lokpal Act

(f) any person who is or has been a chairperson or member or officer or employee

in any body or Board or corporation or authority or company or society or trust or

autonomous body (by whatever name called) established by an Act of Parliament or

wholly or partly financed by the Central Government or controlled by it:

 

Provided that any person referred to in this clause shall be deemed to be a public

servant under clause © of section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and the

provisions of that Act shall apply accordingly.

 

 

Prevention of Corruption Act

defines

 

public servant as

 

Section 2©(i) any person paid by the Govt by fees or commission for performing any public duty;

Section 2©(iii) any person in the service or pay of a Corporation established by a Central or State Act, or an authority or a body owned or controlled or aided by the Government or a Government Company as per Section 617 of Companies Act 1956

 

 

 

My query is does contractual obligation employee is covered under these rules

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karira

Govt unlikely to heed babus’ complaints on assets information

 

NEW DELHI: The government is unlikely to give in to the demand by babus to water down a provision in the Lokpal Act that makes it mandatory for public servants to place details of their assets/liabilities as well as those of their spouse and dependents in the public domain. A senior government functionary said there is a dominant view in the government that any move to amend the relevant section, when the Delhi HC is hearing a civil servant's wife petition challenging it, could invite disapproval of the court and was better avoided.

 

Civil servants' bodies, including IAS and IPS associations, have submitted representations to the government objecting to the requirement of declaring assets of their respective spouses and dependents under Lokpal Act, arguing that it can compromise security of the latter. The pressure, sources told TOI, was largely from lady officers married to businessmen, who were insisting that it was not practical to bring their spouses under public scrutiny simply on grounds of marriage.

 

The bureaucracy is said to have proposed three alternatives. The first being, requiring employees and officers to post details of only their own movable assets, while submitting assets/liabilities of their spouse and minor children in a sealed cover. The second option is to place all details of assets, both movable and immovable, in a sealed cover, while the third alternative is to let babus declare their assets but not that of their family members.

 

"There is a good possibility that any move to tweak the Lokpal Act and exempt spouses or dependent children from placing their assets/liabilities in the public domain, will be seen at odds with the government's strong anti-corruption plank. Also, it might earn us a rap from the courts, as the Delhi high court, which had earlier stayed the rule in this regard, is yet to give its ruling," a government functionary told TOI.

 

There is also an apprehension that adopting different standards for ministers, who have already uploaded details of their assets and liabilities as well as of their spouse/dependents on PMO's website, and government servants would not be feasible.

 

Section 44 of the Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act stipulates that every public servant must declare his assets and liabilities as well as that of his spouse and dependents, and empowers the government to frame the rules in this regard.

 

Read More: Govt unlikely to heed babus? complaints on assets information - The Times of India

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karira

Lokpal: Central government employees get 4 more months to file information on assets

 

NEW DELHI: Central government employees have got four more months, till April next year, to file details of their assets and liabilities under the Lokpal rules.

 

The forms for providing such declarations are also being revised by the Centre.

 

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) today extended the date, from this month-end, to April 30, 2015 for filing the property returns.

 

The formats for submission of statement regarding movable properties and for submission of statement regarding debts and liabilities are also being revised and will be notified, it said in an order.

 

The move comes following concerns raised by some bureaucrats regarding putting details of their assets and liabilities, including that of their family members, in public domain.

 

The DoPT has also formed a committee to look into the babus' concerns. The committee has submitted its first report, recommending simplified formats for declaration of movable property, debts and other liabilities.

 

The DoPT had in September notified the Public Servants (Furnishing of Information and Annual Return of Assets and Liabilities and the Limits for Exemption of Assets in Filing Returns) Amendment Rules, 2014, extending the date for the filing of returns to December 31.

As per the rules, every public servant shall file the returns of his assets and liabilities, including that of his spouse and dependent family members, on March 31 every year on or before July 31 of that year.

 

For the current year, the last date for filing these returns was September 15, which was later extended to December-end and now till April 30, 2015.

 

Read more at:

Lokpal: Central government employees get 4 more months to file information on assets - The Economic Times

lokpalassets extension.pdf

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