Asset Disclosure By Govt Staff – The bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha for approval and Section 44, which deals with declaration of assets and liabilities of public servants.
The Lok Sabha has swiftly passed a bill to allow an extension of the July 31 deadline for 50 lakh central government employees and directors and trustees in NGOs to declare their assets.
The bill, which amends section 44 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, was moved in the Lok Sabha and was passed by voice vote without discussion, with only a CPM lawmaker saying no. The Left party asked why the haste in passing the amendment, worried that it could be seen as a dilution of the anti-corruption law.
The bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha for approval and Section 44, which deals with declaration of assets and liabilities of public servants, and will be reviewed by a parliamentary committee which is expected to give its report only in the next session of Parliament.
A team of parliamentarians from various political parties had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier this week to seek their intervention over a government notification which said that directors, trustees and other office-holders in NGOs which receive more than one crore rupees in government funds or more than 10 lakhs as donation from abroad would be treated as public servants and would have to disclose their income and assets and those of their spouses and dependent children by July 31 this year.
While the House provided immediate relief by approving the amendment to Section 44 of the Act, the provision will be examined in detail by a Parliamentary Standing Committee which will submit its report before next session of Parliament
Moving the amendment for the Asset Disclosure bill consideration, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said the government has received representations from Members of Parliament and other stakeholders and on July 25 a delegation of MPs had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding deletion of the provision.
“Till the present impasse is overcome, the deadline with regard to government servants can be deferred,” Singh said as he moved amendments to the Act.
Singh said the Standing Committee would give its recommendation before the next session of Parliament and till then the deadline for declaration of assets of public servants and NGOs can be deferred.
As per the rules notified under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013, every public servant shall file declaration, information and annual returns pertaining to his assets and liabilities as well as for his spouse and dependent children on March 31 every year or on or before July 31 of that year.
In April, the government had extended the date of filing returns by public servants from April 15 to July 31. This is the fifth extension in the deadline since the Act came into force in January 2014.
The amendment to the Lokpal Act 2013 was later passed by a voice vote.