Govt fails to strictly implement law on declaration of assets by public servants

Info about officials booked in DA cases never shared with SVO
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 20: The Government has failed to strictly implement Jammu and Kashmir Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act despite being aware of the fact that this law is an effective tool to tighten noose around the corrupt officials in the State administration.
The Act, which makes declaration of assets held by public servants and their family members and submission of annual returns in the month of January every year mandatory, was enacted in 1983 and the Rules were notified in 1998 after a delay of 15 years.
As per Rule 3, every public servant is required to submit annual return in duplicate to the prescribed authority in respect of all the assets possessed by him and his family members which shall include the assets in respect of movable property the value of which exceeds Rs 20,000 in each case giving full particulars of cash balance, saving bank deposits, shares, cash certificates, fixed deposits, security bond, jewellery and household items (electric and electronic items only).
Moreover, every public servant is required to bring to the notice of the prescribed authority the acquisition or transfer of movable property where the value of such property exceeds Rs 20,000 in each case.
The prescribed authority is required to scrutinize the return soon after its receipt and satisfy itself the genuineness of the return. In case the prescribed authority has reasons to believe that any item of property shown in the return is doubtful or disproportionate to the known sources of income of a public servant, it shall by a notice afford a reasonable opportunity to him in the matter.
In case the prescribed authority (General Administration Department in relation to gazetted officers and Head of the Department concerned in relation to other public servants) is not satisfied with the explanation tendered by the public servant, it shall refer the matter to the Vigilance Organization for enquiry.
“However, the focus is only on obtaining returns of assets from the public servants and other provisions are not being taken seriously either by the General Administration Department or concerned Heads of the Departments”, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
“The returns are largely being treated as trash instead of being put to detailed scrutiny by specially constituted teams so as to detect amassing of assets beyond known sources of income”, they said, adding “due to lack of focus on scrutiny of returns the corrupt elements in the administration are going scot free”.
They disclosed that State Vigilance Organization has very rarely received property returns of public servants either from the General Administration Department or Heads of the Departments for in-depth enquiry into the assets held by them (public servants) and their family members.
“The intensity of non-serious approach towards strict implementation of the Act can further be gauged from the fact that returns of assets of those public servants who have been booked by the State Vigilance Organization till date on the basis of its own discreet enquiry were never shared with this anti-corruption body”, sources further informed.
Even the returns of assets of those public servants, who were booked by the State Vigilance Organization following imposition of Governor’s rule for possessing disproportionate assets, were not forwarded to the anti-corruption body for enquiry and this has clearly established that strict implementation of Jammu and Kashmir Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act is least priority for the General Administration Department.
The Act also states that no public servant in his own name or in the name of any of his family member acquire or transfer any property unless he has obtained permission in writing from the prescribed authority.
“But this provision is also being flouted by the public servants and the prescribed authority is maintaining blind eye”, sources said, adding “had the Act been strictly implemented it would have helped in containing corruption up to a large extent”.
When contacted, an officer of the General Administration Department, who dealt with the process of obtaining property returns from the public servants, confirmed that no seriousness was being paid towards detailed scrutiny of the returns as required under the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act.