Opposition targets Odisha govt for relaxing asset declaration norms for officials 

Bhubaneswar: The move of Odisha government to amend the clause 44 of the Lokayukta Act, which relaxed the asset declaration norms for public servants, has not gone well with opposition parties – BJP and Congress.

Following the Centre’s amendment to Lokpal & Lokayukta Act, the Odisha Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in the Odisha Assembly on Saturday. Now the public servants will not have to declare the assets in the name of their spouse and children.

Leader of Opposition, Pradipta Naik said, “It will create new route for babus to conceal their assets. When there is a provision for all MLAs, MPs to declare their assets of their dependants as well, the IAS and OAS officers need to declare the assets on similar lines.”

Congress MLA Sura Routray stated that “Officers usually keep and create the assets in the name of their dependants, relatives and other family members.”

Responding to the allegations of the opposition members, Government chief whip, Pramila Mallick said, “Only after a detailed analysis, the Bill has been passed in the House. Though such provision has been abolished, there is a provision for the officers to file assets and liabilities with their concerned departments.  Under no circumstances, the government is trying to give any scope to official to conceal information.”

Earlier, the government officials had to declare assets of their spouse and children under the Lokayukta Act, 2014 (Original Act).

As per sources, Odisha will now amend the rules framed under the Lokayukta Act to prepare a specified format for submission of asset details by the public servants.

Though the State government is making tall claims on transparency and taking stern action against corruption, such amendments are now being seen as an attempt to protect the public servants by creating an easy escape route.

Retired public servants, on the other hand, have advocated that the government officials should declare their assets and liabilities along with that of their spouse and children.