New Delhi: The PMO’s website has blocked access to the page on the assets and liabilities of union council of ministers.
Instead of making the assets public, the page seeks a username and password to gain access.
The page states that it was last updated on February 11, 2015.
The details of the assets of ministers and the prime minister are supposed to be in public domain, as was the case in the past.
While assets disclosure of public servants routinely collected by the public authority, should be made available to the public domain under the Right to Information Act.
It has been about seven decades since Indian Constitution was written but the government is still unsure as to whether its all-mighty and powerful ministers are public servants or not. Irked with this, the Central Information Commission (CIC) once asked the government to define whether its ministers are public servants.
In response, the cabinet secretariat stated that “As per records available there are no specific definitions of whether ministers are public servant or not.”
Accordingly, ministers’ property returns are not covered under RTI Act.
The Prime Minister Narendra modi had reportedly asked ministers to make details of property returns on public domain.
In a report published, on 10 August last year, PTI said, “In a bid to ensure transparency, the Narendra Modi government has asked all departments and ministries to put property details of officials on their respective websites. A government circular in this regard was recently received by the Defence Ministry, which says that the new rules for filing property returns are part of the government’s efforts to implement the Lokayukta Act, 2013.”
It is note that most states in India have been unable to make ministers’ assets public. The PM Modi’s home state BJP government also rejected last year a RTI application which sought property details of ministers, saying that, the information was not of any interest to the public.