Friday, July 10, 2015

Property Returns to be filed twice every year, Government clarifies to bureaucrats

The Centre has made it clear that government servants will have to submit their asset details twice every year under the existing Conduct Rules and the new Lokpal Act until the former are harmonised with the latter. This means that babus will have to undergo the drill of filing their annual property returns twice each year under the two different provisions. 

"The requirement of filing returns regarding assets and liabilities under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act is in addition to, and not in derogation or supersession of the requirement of filing similar returns under the existing Conduct Rules. In view of this, the requirement of filing of property returns under the existing Conduct Rules is an independent requirement under the applicable rules and the same can be dispensed with, only by amending those rules," the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has said, releasing answers to a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. "In other words, the requirement of filing returns of assets and liabilities under the applicable Conduct Rules has to continue, till such time as the provisions of those rules are harmonised with the relevant provisions of the Lokpal Act and the rules framed thereunder, by carrying out appropriate amendments in them. Public servants are generally required to submit annual property returns as on the January of the year, on or before January 31 of that year. The Lokpal Act, on the other hand, requires the filing of annual returns as on the March 31 of the year by each public servant on or before July 31 of that year. Thus, the requirements of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 and the relevant Conduct Rules are different in the manner of filing information also," the DoPT has said. 

The DoPT however said it has asked for the required harmonisation to be achieved by October 15, 2015 -- the date by which all government servants are expected to file their first property return under the Lokpal Act. "It is incumbent upon all Ministries / Departments/cadre controlling authorities to ensure that the relevant conduct rules relating to services administered/controlled by them are brought in harmony with the provisions of the Lokpal Act and rules made thereunder within an extended time limit of eighteen months (by October 15, 2015). All Ministries/Departments and other cadre controlling authorities have been appraised about this requirement separately through letters dated 8th September, 2014 and 29 December, 2014 issued by this Department," the DoPT has said. 

Under the Lokpal Act, a public servant is required to furnish to the competent authority the information relating to the assets of which he, his spouse and his dependent children are, jointly or severally, owners or beneficiaries; and his liabilities and that of his spouse and his dependent children. As against this, the general requirement as contained in most of the applicable Conduct Rules for government servants (AIS Conduct Rules, CCS Conduct Rules), require the public servant to submit a return, giving the full particulars regarding the immovable property owned by him, or inherited or acquired by him or held by him on lease or mortgage, either in his own name or in the name of any member of his family or in the name of any other person; shares, debentures, postal Cumulative Time Deposits and cash including bank deposits inherited by him or similarly owned, acquired or held by him, other movable property inherited by him or similarly owned, acquired or held by him and debts and other liabilities incurred by him directly or indirectly.

Source : The Economic Times