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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Centre agrees to put on hold assets declaration provision

NEW DELHI, July 27, 2016

The Centre on Tuesday agreed in principle to put on hold the decision mandating “public servants” to disclose their assets before July 31 in line with a Lokpal Act provision. The government was responding to concerns raised by both political and apolitical quarters, and will now further examine the order’s implications.

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a delegation of senior political leaders, including Sharad Pawar, Digvijaya Singh and D. Raja, that there was merit in the case for review of some of the Lokpal Act’s provisions, including that of the definition of “public servant.” The Prime Minister told them that he would ask the Home Ministry to extend the deadline regarding declaration of assets.

“Our impression from the government is that it agrees with the contention on the adverse implications of ‘public servant’ as defined under the Lokpal Act. To begin with the government is expected to put on hold the notification and then bring in some amendments which would be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. It is immediately not clear if the amendments would be moved in the ongoing session of Parliament,” Mr. Raja told The Hindu.

In the last few weeks, several organisations have been seeking similar clarifications from the government.

As per the notification issued last month, officials and senior employees of bodies receiving funds from overseas, or from the government beyond specified limits, are covered under the Act, and must disclose their assets and those of their spouse and dependent children by July 31. This makes the law applicable to many charitable organisations and their functionaries, and can impede philanthropic activities.
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