- The Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice (Chair: Mr. Bhupender Yadav) submitted its report on “Draft Public Servants (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities and Minimum Value of Assets for Condonation or Exemption) Rules, 2017”. These Rules are proposed to be notified under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. They prescribe the form and manner for declaration of assets and liabilities of public servants.
- The 2013 Act requires a public servant to declare his assets and liabilities, and that of his spouse and dependent children. Previously, the Act itself specified the form and manner of the declaration. However, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Act, 2016 amended this provision to state that the form and manner of making such a declaration will be prescribed by the central government through rules. The Rules were drafted pursuant to the 2016 Amendment Act. The Standing Committee examined the Rules and made the following recommendations:
- Time period for declaration: As per the Rules, a public servant is required to make a declaration of assets and liabilities within six months of assuming office. Public servants already in office are required to file a declaration on or before July 31, 2018. Further, revised declarations need to be filed within six months if there is any change in the details provided in earlier declarations. Instead of this process, the Committee recommended that declarations only be filed once a year. This will allow public servants to file a single return in a year even if it includes several transactions.
- Determining minimum amount for declaration: Under the Rules, assets and liabilities below a certain value are exempted from declaration. This minimum value of assets may be prescribed by the competent authority, having regard to the nature of public servant and the public office. The Committee emphasised that the minimum value should be reasonable and should be revised at regular intervals.