Submission of online property returns

With one more step taken towards containing, if not fully eradicating, corrupt practices in Government departments, UT Government of Jammu and Kashmir having amended Jammu and Kashmir Public Servants Declaration of Assets and other Provisions Rules, it has now been made mandatory for every public servant to reveal more and probably hide very less in respect of building assets and other properties. It has, therefore, been well conceived to fix a limit or a benchmark for the value of property raised during the reporting year value of which is twice the total basic salary drawn by the concerned (officer) employee which shall now be applicable in cases of acquiring and transferring of such property. It, therefore, implies that not only has such information to be revealed in the standard format of property return but details in respect of ‘how acquired’ too is to be mentioned. It additionally denotes that information in respect of all assets valuing the limit fixed as the minimum, has got to be revealed with details and any discrepancy or ambiguity there-about shall be sufficient reason for the authorities to refer the matter to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) for proper investigation. Moreover, submission of the said property return from January 1 to 31 only through on-line mode and non submission during that full month shall cause its non acceptance subsequently, is agreeably a step taken in the right direction. Such an amendment where value of the asset acquired does not exceed two months basic salary of the employee concerned appears to be a step taken to enforce more probity and ”fair dealings” in Government departments and therefore, the earlier limit or the ceiling of Rs.20000 being the value of each assets required to be declared, standing in the name of the employee and his /her family members stands revised. Rules are made, procedures are prescribed as also regulations are issued from time to time but the question is of the levels of compliance to make all such Rules effective. Since it had been unfortunately observed that both at employees’ level to treat the timely submission of the annual Return of Assets and Liabilities as extremely important rather mandatory and at the levels of the competent authorities to ensure not only timely submission but about revealing full particulars of all such assets acquired during the reporting period, the matter in totality has now been relooked into and accorded the due significance. There is one more important factor related to the Return itself as articulated by us many a time that not only particulars about assets need to be given in details in the requisite Return but particulars about liabilities too was essential to be revealed by the concerned Government officer employees. That entails the caption of the Return to be named as ”Annual Return of Assets and Liabilities”. In fact, it is not only important to know about the particulars of an employee’s assets raised during a particular reporting period (generally the particular year) but also equally about one’s outstanding liabilities. The mortifying conscience about resorting to unfair means and corrupt ways cannot arise only for raising assets with the ill-gotten money but even for clearing a debt and a liability which could have arisen in the past. It is, therefore, extremely important to have this important Return filled in properly and subsequently perused carefully to obfuscate any wilful suppression of material information. Needless to mention, this Return is a small but vital window to have a peep into the doings of an employee in a Government department in addition to have other modes of scrutiny and verification. Pertinent to add, any type of reluctance, deferment, insufficient information and the like in respect of this vital annual Return is sufficient ground and basis of suspecting something fishy to enable the authorities to timely initiate proper action which need to be properly communicated to the employees which we hope is otherwise being done by the General Administration Department but probably without proper and desired outcomes. The identified Agency-the Anti Corruption Bureau – must not confront difficulties in identifying such employees who have or are in the habit of amassing assets disproportionate to known sources of income. Identifying corruption as a scourge and a major evil and issuing spate of directions and circulars alone is not sufficient in eradication of the evil but enforcing directives strictly. Resorting to more of e- governance and online dealings along with proper surveillance to check corruption and corrupt dealings equally cannot be underestimated in playing its role in discouraging corruption in Government departments to a large extent which measures, therefore, need to be introduced fully in all dep