Annual property returns not submitted

Perhaps, it can happen only in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir where majority of Government officers are taking mandatory submission of annual returns on their property, movable and immovable, as too optional to be submitted to the Anti-Corruption Bureau. At the outset, when this is the status of compliance of directives of the Government by the concerned responsible officers, more so when they are legally bound under Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act as also under Prevention of Corruption Act, how can they command official decorum, discipline and compliance of office rules and regulations from their juniors in the Government departments, they are heading or occupying responsible positions in? The matter assumes importance of its own when even after repeated communications by the higher authorities, these officers still do not file these very important returns which is one of the exercises to take on the menace of corruption which has made deep inroads in the administrative set up in Jammu and Kashmir. The concerned officers, we may reiterate, need not to be reminded about what precisely is enjoined upon them in the relevant laws to do in compliance as they are supposed to know that fairly and even under the established norms of “ignorance of law was no excuse”, they are supposed to have been fairly acquainted with the provisions of the requisite laws and submit these important returns religiously regularly every year in January. Non submission would carry the impression the other way and provide enough room to smell a rat that perhaps something was attempted to be kept back and kept hiding as that asset had no justification to be there in relation to the known sources of income. If not, why should one not be in the front row in submitting the information well in time? Does it look administratively or logically any better to virtually beseech the officers giving references of the compulsions of the law and the requirements at administrative levels to file these returns? The concerned officers are duty bound to do as directed by the employer (the Government) and any insubordination was otherwise tantamount to unilaterally breaking the agreement of employment and in clean words to be out of the job. It is one thing that the Government does not invoke that procedure or even order for withholding the salary and other perks but resorts to communications and reminders to motivate so as to have these statements submitted. We know that most of the GOI undertakings have the system of submission of such returns seen and implemented with utmost compliance rather according to it a cardinal status where even breaching the deadline cannot be thought of even, let alone dared to be committed. In fact, in addition to submitting the returns direct to the Anti Corruption Bureau, it should have been procedurally to submit direct to the General Administration Department in sealed envelope in duplicate from where the same could have, in bulk, been forwarded to the Anti Corruption Bureau. One copy of the return invariably is a must to be kept in the office file /service Book record etc, whatever the case, in respect of each officer to enable him or her to have a full glance of the assets acquired by him or her including in the name of the family members to add or delete whatever the case while filing fresh return each year. That would serve the double purpose – that of compliance and non compliance in which case action could be taken against the erring officers. There can, of course, be many improvements and innovative ways to get the things done in more quick, accurate and time bound manner. The default must be accompanied by departmental action in case the purpose of Prevention of Corruption Act has got to be accomplished. We have many a time touched this issue through these columns whenever non compliance becomes widely known forcing the higher authorities in the UT administration issuing reminders and communications for submission of these returns.