DVOs directed to ensure compliance without further delay
Declaration of Assets, Anti-Corruption Acts being violated
JAMMU, June 10: Despite repeated communications, the officers of the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are not submitting annual property returns to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in blatant violation of Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act and Prevention of Corruption Act.
As per the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Public Men and Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act, 1983, amended thereafter from time to time, every Government servant has to submit to the Prescribed Authority, a return of all the assets possessed by him/her and his/her family members within three months after he/she becomes a Government servant.
Thereafter, they are required to submit annual returns of the assets held by them and their family members in the month of January every year and shall state the reasons for increase, if any, in the assets and source thereof.
Similarly, Prevention of Corruption Act states: “A public servant is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct, if he/she or any person on his/her behalf, is in possession or has, at any time during the period of his office, been in possession for which the public servant cannot satisfactorily account, of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income”.
While Jammu and Kashmir Public Men and Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act, 1983 makes it mandatory for submission of annual property returns, the Prevention of Corruption Act empowers the anti-corruption bodies to put the same to scrutiny to ascertain any sort of violation, which leads to imprisonment of the officer.
As there was no voluntary compliance to the provisions of these Acts, the Jammu and Kashmir Anti-Corruption Bureau vide communication No.ACB/O-Stmt/2021/8459-60 dated April 23, 2021 asked all the Departmental Vigilance Officers (DVOs) in Kashmir division to inform all the officers in their respective departments to send a copy of the annual property return for the year 2020 to Anti-Corruption Bureau at the earliest.
Similar direction was also issued to all the Departmental Vigilance Officers of Jammu division vide communication No.ACB/P-Stmt/2021/8052-53 dated April 16, 2021. It was mentioned in both the communications that during scrutiny, it was noticed that annual property returns in respect of public servants have not been received.
However, there was no strict compliance to both these communications which compelled the Anti-Corruption Bureau to dash fresh letters to all the DVOs in both the divisions of Jammu and Kashmir on June 7, 2021.
“You (DVOs) are directed to reiterate to officers in your respective departments to send a copy of annual property returns for the year 2020 without any further delay”, read the latest communication of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR. The copy of the communication has also been forwarded to the General Administration Department for information and necessary directions to all the departments.
When contacted, some officers in the Anti-Corruption Bureau said, “the public servants are not required to submit annual property returns through the heads of their respective departments and they can submit the same directly to the Bureau for scrutiny”.
“It would be only during scrutiny of annual property returns we can come to know about violation of provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and can proceed accordingly”, they said, adding “it is the duty of the Departmental Vigilance Officers to ensure that every year annual property returns are submitted to Anti-Corruption Bureau”.
In its edition dated February 1, 2021, EXCELSIOR had exclusively reported that majority of the Government servants are not submitting mandatory property returns annually in blatant violation of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Men and Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act, which has been retained in the Union Territory by the Ministry of Home Affairs.