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PIL in HC against Lokpal provisions on assets declaration

The provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act which make it mandatory for public servants to disclose assets of their spouses and children were today challenged in the Delhi High Court.

A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul referred the matter to the Chief Justice.

“In our view this matter is ought to listed before the Division Bench No.1 (bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini) as per the roster,” the court said, adding that it will be heard on September 12.

The court was hearing a plea of Baswa Nand, who retired as a class II public servant after serving in the Department of Revenue of Ministry of Finance. He opposed the Lokpal provisions contending that they were violative of the Fundamental Rights.

The petition, filed through advocate Kaanan Kapoor and Bhushan Kapoor, contended that the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 is ultra vires the Constitution as well as contrary to the provisions of the RTI Act and Income Tax Act.

It further said that online publication of the finances and other assets of spouses and children of public servants amounts to violation of right to privacy.

Easy access to such information would also pose a threat to the life and liberty of the public servants, posted or employed in areas with law and order problems, as well as their family, the counsel added.

The PIL sought setting aside of various provisions of the Act and rules framed there under, saying they are ultra vires the Constitution and contrary to the Right to Information Act as well as the provisions of the Income Tax Act.

It further said that if the independent liabilities of the spouse and or the dependent children, which have no relation with the public servant, are disclosed on government website, they will “cause prejudice and humiliation before the public at large”.

Under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 every public servant shall make a declaration of his assets and liabilities in the manner as provided under the Act besides the assets of his spouse and his dependent children are, jointly or severally, owners or beneficiaries.

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