If members of parliament and state legislature can file an affidavit on their assets, even government employees can declare their assets , Hazare said in a letter to Deshmukh. Hazare, who has threatened to launch an indefinite stir from next week, will meet the chief minister on Wednesday.
As per existing rules, all-India service officials-IAS , IPS and IFS-submit a statement of their assets in a sealed envelope, while other government officials submit the information once in five years. Besides, if government employees purchase any item of above Rs 10,000, they have to inform the general administration department (GAD). The entire information is always confidential and no one has access to it.
Significantly, Nagpur information commissioner Vilas Patil had passed an order, saying that under the RTI Act, there is no restriction on declaring the information submitted by an IAS officer. He had asked the then municipal commissioner Lokeshchandra to provide the information to the applicant. The Bombay HC had stayed Patil's order.
Hazare's contention was that when Union home minister Shivraj Patil and Deshmukh have declared their assets , the government employees should not take objection to it. Hazare has urged the CM to initiate departmental proceedings against officials who have been fined under the RTI Act. "If an official is found guilty under the RTI Act, the HoD should initiate proceedings against him directly and if he-the HoD-fails to take action, then the government should take action against him for dereliction of duty.''
"We were the first state across the country to enact the RTI Act. We feel that some more time should be allowed for the implementation of the RTI Act in letter and spirit,'' a senior official said.
Re: Asset declaration by govt officials to be mandatory: Hazare
IF such declaration is made it will really help promoting transparency and accountability, though it may not, on its own, eliminate corruption. After all not all the disproportionate assets will be kept in one's own name. Nevertheless it will be a good step in the right direction.
Show me your money, Patil tells officials
As Reported by Surendra Gangan, DNA, 16 August 2008
Prompted by social crusader Anna Hazare, both chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and deputy chief minister RR Patil are wondering why bureaucrats are out of the purview of compulsory declaration of assets.
In a meeting, attended by eight cabinet ministers and over six additional chief secretary-level officers, on Wednesday night Patil posed the question, ?When every politician is bound to disclose the property, at least every five years, why are the bureaucrats spared??
Annual disclosure of assets by IAS and IPS officers was one of the demands placed before the state government by Hazare during the meeting that lasted four-and-a-half hours (till 11.15 pm).
Patil got backing from Deshmukh, who in turn looked towards chief secretary Johny Joseph for a reply. Joseph said the prevalent system was as per the service rules of the Central government. Hazare told Deshmukh that Bihar government had made it compulsory for bureaucrats to disclose the properties and other assets they and their families own, on the lines of disclosure expected of electoral candidates.
Joseph told the meeting, ?Bureacracy comes under Central government and we have asked them to take a view of the existing system on the background of the demand made by Hazare.?
Patil said such a move would go a long way in maintaining transparency.
Under present rules, IAS and IPS officers are meant to submit in sealed envelopes before March 31 each year details of their assets. The envelopes are never opened until and unless a case of disproportionate assets arises. When the details were leaked from the sealed envelope of the then DGP PS Pasricha two years ago, the system was questioned for the first time.
Like civil services officials, each state government employee also submit a sealed envelope of his or her assets — but once in five years. Hazare has demanded the disclosure be made transparent and even put on the government website. An official of the general administration department said the government cannot make it compulsory only for employees of Maharashtra. ?We can go ahead with an Act only if Central government makes it mandatory for officials all over the country,? he said.
The government on Monday failed to introduce the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill after a strong resistance from the Opposition.
Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said "it is deferred" and he claimed the government will come to House after evolving consensus among the parties. It is now unlikely to introduce the Bill in this session, which is going to end on August 6. Opposition parties BJP, CPM and CPI took strong objection to Clause 6 of the Bill that states that "the declaration made by a judge to the competent authority shall not be made public or disclosed and shall not be called for or put into question by any citizen, court or authority".
In fact, the bone of contention in the proposed Bill is the said Clause 6 that protects the declarations of judges from disclosure to public. The judiciary, lead by the Chief Justice of India Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, is raising its voices repeatedly since the day the government proposed to bring the said Bill. Justice Balakrishnan repeatedly said that judges have no objection to declare the assets but these declarations must not open to public scrutiny.
But now the question is: What is the use of such declarations that are not opened to public scrutiny? Declarations kept in government files are useless. Ideally, all the pillars of our government system must disclose their assets along with their spouse and children and update it whenever there is any change in their declaration. And all such declarations must be opened to public scrutiny. The citizen should be allowed to avail copies of such declarations under RTI Act and analyse it. But unfortunately we have different system for our different pillars of government set up. For instance:
After Supreme Court directive in 2003 and the Election Commission's orders thereafter, every candidate contesting election for both Houses of Parliament and state legislatures is supposed to declare the assets and liabilities of himself, spouse and dependent children.
This all is open to public scrutiny and available online on Election Commission website as well. Media analyses these affidavits largely during the elections.
Elected members of Houses:
After an enactment in Parliament in 2004, every member of both Houses of Parliament is supposed to declare the details of his assets and liabilities along with that of his spouse and dependents. Every member is supposed to file such declarations within 90 days of his/her election to the House. Only nominated members are exempted under these rules. Many state assemblies have also enacted such provisions but many still don't have such system in place. Now, both Houses of Parliament are sharing the declarations of their members under RTI Act, i.e., it is open to public scrutiny.
After taking oath as a minister, every minister is given a copy of code of conduct. According to this code of conduct, every minister is supposed to declare the details of assets and liabilities of themselves and their spouse and dependents to the prime minister and to the chief ministers in case of a state.
Many ministers follow this code of conduct but many do not do so as it is not mandatory. PMO and Cabinet Secretariat do not share these declarations under RTI Act and in an appeal the Central Information Commission last year illogically forwarded the appeal to the Speaker to respond. Fact is that the PMO was asked to disclose the declaration of ministers which must be available with the PMO/Cabinet Secretariat not with the Speaker. The Speaker has the declaration of members that they have made as an MP and not as a minister. But, CIC Wajahat Habibullah had forwarded it to the Speaker. India Today's appeal in this regard is still pending with CIC since March 2008 and matter is yet to be listed.
Every government servant is supposed to make such declarations just after joining his service and update it annually. People are trying to get such declarations under RTI Act but they have failed. UP State Information Commissioner Gyanendra Sharma directed UP government last year in October to load all such declarations of IAS/IPS officers on the website but the state government approached the high court and the matter was stayed.
In fact, like the assets of ministers, MPs and MLAs, the assets of civil servants must also be open to public scrutiny. But government offices are continuously denying such requests. One such appeal of India Today is pending with CIC after the information was denied from the concerned department.
The ongoing controversy since last one year resulted into the proposed Bill that was to be introduced in the Parliament on Monday. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan is repeatedly saying that such declarations of the judges must not be disclosed under RTI Act. Now it may take time to get consensus of political parties but it is interesting that all opposition parties are raising their voice against the clause that protects public disclosure of the assets.
In fact, while analyzing the declarations of hundreds of politicians it is clear that they hide the information regarding the assets of their children. They are right under the rules because they are supposed to declare the assets of dependent children along with their own but it will be transparent if they declare the assets of their all children whether they are dependent to them or not. Public scrutiny of all such declarations of politicians, bureaucrats and judges will compel our policy makers to be transparent and honest at some extent.