NEW DELHI: In what could bring relief to nearly five million Central government employees, the Narendra Modi government has decided to amend the Lokpal and the Lokayukta Act to give itself a statutory power to withhold certain information from the public.
All Central staff, as per the latest order of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), have to declare their assets and liabilities, both movable and immovable, as well as those of their spouses and dependents latest by September 15. All these information would then be put up by the respective ministries on their website accessible to everyone.
A number of representations received by the government from officials expressed fear that putting details of movable assets such as jewellery and cash in hand and bank would pose a security threat to them and their dependents, leave their children vulnerable to kidnapping and ransom demands. For instance, an official said he has put all savings in general provident fund which has accumulated to Rs 75 lakhs over a period of time. Putting this information in the public domain would leave him and his family members vulnerable.
Sources said the amendments proposed only gives the government the statutory power to withhold information related to officials' movable assets only, such as his cash in hand or bank and jewellery owned by him or his family members. The government will not be empowered to hold back information on immovable assets: house or land owned by him.
The amendment also makes it clear that it will have no impact on the current asset declaration guidelines. The officials will have to continue declaring all their assets - movable and immovable as per the previous directive. Only difference the proposed amendment will make is to ensure certain information is not made public.
The DoPT is working on the proposed amendment and has already taken a view from the law ministry to bring in the required changes. Any fresh amendment will not impact the current declaration deadline of September 15 which is applicable for all employees.
Once these declarations are received by the government, it is for the respective ministries to put them up on its website accessible to all, except those related to the movable assets for which an amendment is required to implement it.
New Delhi, Sep 4, 2014, (PTI):
The Centre is considering a move to drop mandatory police verification of candidates selected for government jobs and may accept self-attestation certificates from them.
The issue of omitting the need of police verification of people getting selected for government jobs and applying for passports is under consideration of the Ministry of Home Affairs, official sources said.
The MHA is likely take a view of state governments and other stakeholders in the matter, they said.
A concept note on the matter by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions also favoured replacement of police verification in various works including for the purpose of issuance of passport and for government jobs.
It needs to be considered if this can be eliminated as (i) the police check is only about any criminal cases for which the persons concerned do provide necessary declarations and remain liable for false declaration; (ii) the police report is perfunctory as it covers the last place of residence only; (iii) in any case, neighbours' affirmation appears to have little meaning, the note says.
As part of its effort to reform the public service delivery system and bridging the governance deficit, the Centre is promoting self attestation in place of notarised affidavits for a big chunk of government-related work.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently sought minimum use of affidavits and a shift to self-certification, so as to benefit the common man.
"In a citizen-friendly initiative, all ministries and departments of the union government, and all state governments, have been asked to make provision for self-certification of documents in place of affidavits.
"The requirement of attestation by gazetted officer is also sought to be replaced by self-certification by the citizen," the Prime Minister's Office has said in a release.
The 12th report--'citizen centric administration-the heart of governance'--of the second Administrative Reforms Commission has also suggested simplifying procedures for self-certification provision