Friday, 29 July 2016

Deadline for central government employees to declare assets extended

Deadline for central government employees to declare assets extended

New Delhi: Central government employees and NGOs receiving government funds now need not declare their assets by the deadline of July 31 as Parliament today approved an amendment in the Lokpal Act to extend the timeline.

The amendment to Section 44 of the Lokpal Act was approved by voice vote by the Rajya Sabha today, a day after the Lok Sabha did the same.

While moving the bill to amend the Lokpal Act for consideration of the House, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said it is an immediate necessity and the provision will be examined in detail by a Parliamentary Standing Committee which will possibly submit its report before next session of Parliament.
During a brief discussion, the Opposition asked the government to adopt this law without any dilution.
Naresh Agrawal of Samajwadi Party said he was opposed to the Lokpal Act as this is not good for democracy and constitution. “Can the country’s Prime Minister be dishonest and Lokpal be honest,” he asked.

Replying to the concerns raised by the members, Singh said: “There is no intention to dilute or to delay the Lokpal Act. The government is committed to implement this law in letter and spirit”.

He also said the message should not go out that members of this House have joined hands to prevent declaration of their assets.

“Under the People Representation Act, what we declare is more than enough, regardless of the fact that we have Lokpal Act or not,” Singh said, adding that exercise to amend this Act has been done in good faith and is only to extend the deadline with only two days left. It gives relief to 50 lakh government employees.

The amendment pertains to Section 44 of the Lokpal Act which deals with declaration of assets and provision of making the assets public, he said.

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.

As per rules, organisations receiving more than Rs 1 crore in government grants and donations above Rs 10 lakh from abroad fall under the ambit of Lokpal.


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