|For the first time, the Lok Sabha will have a register of members' financial interests on the lines of the Rajya Sabha.
The ethics committee of the Lower House has submitted a report to Speaker Meira Kumar suggesting that a register of assets and liabilities of members be kept, which could also be accessed by the public.
The Speaker had asked the ethics panel to study the matter after she received suggestions from various quarters that such a register would help reinforce people's faith in Parliament.
Sources said the report is being considered by the Lok Sabha's rules committee, chaired by the Speaker. If the House decides to start such a practice, rules have to be amended accordingly.
"We have submitted a report recommending that such a register could be opened. Now it is up to the Speaker and the rules panel chaired by her to take further decision," ethics committee chairman Manikrao Hodlya Gavit said.
"The ethics committee of the Lok Sabha should be more assertive on this issue like their Upper House counterpart. Maintaining such a register will reinforce the faith of the public in democracy," Anil Barwal, national coordinator of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), said.
Bairwal had written to the Speaker in August, requesting her to start such a register in the Lower House. She had forwarded his request to the ethics committee.
The ADR, which recently accessed the interests' register of the Rajya Sabha, said four ministers from the Upper House have declared that they have financial or business interests. Ten ministers, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, declared that they have no pecuniary or financial interest of any kind.
At present, the Lok Sabha does not keep a register of members' business or financial interests, but the members are supposed to declare their assets and liabilities before the Speaker.
"Both Houses of Parliament have rules that require MPs to declare their assets and liabilities.
The Lok Sabha rules, which are a little different from that of the Rajya Sabha, do not explicitly specify that the declarations have to be made annually. The Rajya Sabha rules, however, clearly mention it," Chakshu Roy of the PRS Legislative Research said.
The Lok Sabha ethics committee is learnt to have suggested "five pecuniary interests" on which the members should furnish the details. Sources said this is more or less in the lines of Rajya Sabha ethics committee's suggestions.
An MP should provide details, such as the name and address of the company, the nature of company business, salary, allowances and any other taxable receipts, to the register if he/ she is a director of any company.
The MP should also submit the details of his/ her regular remunerated activities. The name and address of the establishment s/ he is associated with, the nature of business, the position held and amount of remuneration received should be provided.
Thirdly, an MP should provide the details if he/ she holds the shares of any company in a controlling nature. If the member is a paid consultant of any business organisation, that details should also have to be registered. Lastly, he/ she should describe the professional engagement and the remuneration from it from any other business organisations.
According to the Members of Lok Sabha (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Rules, 2004, every elected candidate should furnish the details of movable and immovable property which he, his spouse and his dependent children own.
The member should also declare his/ her liabilities to any public financial institution and to the central or the state government within 90 days of swearing in as an MP. The information is treated as confidential.