Thursday, 28 July 2016

The GOOD and the NOT-SO-GOOD about the Lokpal Amendment Act!

There is just one question that many readers ask about The Lokpal and Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2016:  
“Is it good or bad?”

In our considered view the Bill is like the proverbial Curate’s egg – Good in parts!

What is good about the Bill?
  1. It provides interim relief, doing away with the requirement to declare personal assets and liabilities by 31st July 2016
  2. The competent authority in respect of each Ministry or Department (e.g. Ministry of Home Affairs in cases where the organization receives more than Rs. 10 Lakhs from foreign source) will not publish the statements filed by the “public servants” (trustees and officers of NGOs and charitable institutions) on the Ministry’s own website.
  3. Assets of spouse and dependent children need not be declared

What is not good?
  1. Since Section 14 of the Act has not been amended, trustees and officers of NGOs and charitable institutions which receive more than Rs. 1 Crore from the Central Government or donations in excess of Rs. 10 Lakhs from ‘foreign source’ under FCRA continue to be deemed ‘public servants’
  2. Such ‘public servants’ are required to make a declaration of their assets and liabilities in such form and manner as may be prescribed. In other words there will be new forms and new due dates declared at the appropriate time.

What next?
  1. We can ill afford to remain complacent.
  2. We need to ensure that the new Rules are not adversarial
  3. There is need for advocacy and NGOs and their networks like VANI, PRIA, CAP etc., must work closely with the Standing Committee.
  4. If despite best efforts the new Rules are adversarial, we may have to seek legal redress through the courts of law.

Noshir H. Dadrawala

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