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Monday, August 1, 2016

Centre exempts spouse, children of govt employees from declaring assets under Lokpal

 PTI | New Delhi | July 31, 2016

"The clauses in the Lokpal Act regarding submission of such details of their spouse and dependent children have been done away with," a senior official in Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said. 

Central government employees and executives of NGOs have been exempted from filing details of assets and liabilities of their spouses and dependent children under the newly amended Lokpal Act.

As per the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, all public servants were required to file details of their assets and liabilities, besides those of their spouses and dependent children every year.

Parliament had on Thursday passed a bill to amend the Lokpal Act.

“The new law mandates that every public servant shall make a declaration of his assets and liabilities. The clauses in the Lokpal Act regarding submission of such details of their spouse and dependent children have been done away with,” a senior official in Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.

The clause related to making public such declarations have also been removed in the new legislation, he said.

“The amendment to Lokpal Act passed by both houses of Parliament does not give much relief to government and foreign-funded NGOs except for extension of the deadline for submission and doing away with the requirement for declaring assets and liabilities of their spouses and dependent children.

“Overall they amount to rolling back those portions of the Lokpal law that make government servants directly accountable and transparent to the people, especially if they acquire assets disproportionate to their known sources of income,” said Venkatesh Nayak, who works with NGO– Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

He said with the latest changes, people have lost their right to know the financial profile of government servants that the Lokpal Act provided for in its original form. The last date for public servants to file assets details is December 31, as per a DoPT order.

This is the sixth time that the government has extended the date for about 50 lakh government employees to file the details of assets and liabilities whereas for Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and their executives, this is the first such extension. The existing deadline was to end on Sunday.

The declarations under the Lokpal law are in addition to those filed by the employees under various service rules. As per rules, every public servant shall file declaration, information and annual returns pertaining to his assets and liabilities as on March 31 every year on or before July 31 of that year.

The DoPT had last month issued an order bringing NGOs receiving more than Rs one crore in government grants and donations above Rs 10 lakh from abroad under the ambit of the Lokpal. The order made it mandatory for such organisations and their executives– director, manager, secretary or any other officer– to file returns of their assets and liabilities.
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