Last Updated on July 16, 2020 at 4:42 pm

While many officers have in recent years failed to furnish their annual property statement, a code of conduct was put in place in Jammu and Kashmir in 1967 that was applicable to all the ministers, state ministers, deputy ministers, chief parliamentary secretary and the parliamentary secretaries that required them to disclose details of their assets and liabilities.

A minister before taking office was supposed to disclose to the Chief Minister details of the assets and liabilities, and of business concern, or himself and the members of his family. The details to be disclosed shall consist of the particulars of all immovable property and the total approximate value of the shares and debentures, cash holding and jewellery.

The minister’s family included his wife (or the husband as the case may be) not legally separated from him, minor children and any other person related by blood or marriage to the wholly dependent on a minister.

It was stated in the code that the minister shall sever all connections, short of divesting himself of the ownership, with the conduct and management of any business in which he was interested before his appointment as minister.

The code read, “With regard to the business concern which supplies goods or services to the government or to undertakings of the government (excepting in the usual course of trade or business and at standard or market rates) or whose business primarily depends on licenses, permits, quotas, leases etc received or to be received from the government, the minister shall divest himself of all his interests in the said concern and also of the management thereof. He may, however, transfer in the case of his business interest in the management and in the case of business concern supplying quotas or service to the government, both ownership and management to any adult member of his family or adult relative other than his wife (or the husband as the case may be) who was prior to his appointment as minister associated with the conduct or management or ownership of the said business”.

“The question of divesting himself or his interests would not arise in case of holding of shares in public limited companies except where the chief minister considers that the nature of his holding is such that it is likely to embarrass him/her in the discharge of his in the official duties, the code stated” the code read.

After taking up office and so long as he remains in office, the ministers were supposed to furnish annually by the 31st March to the chief minister a declaration regarding all assets and liabilities. “He shall refrain from buying or selling to the government any immovable property except where such property is compulsorily acquired by the government in the usual course” the code read.

“The minister shall refrain from starting or joining any business. He/she shall ensure that the embers of his family do not start or participate in business concern engaged in supplying goods or services to the government or to undertaking under the government (except in the usual course of trade or business and at standard or market rates) or dependent primarily on grant of licenses, permits, quotas, lease etc from the government” the code of 1967 read.

The ministers were asked to report to the chief minister if any member of his family sets up or joins in the conduct and management of any other business.

The code of conduct laid down that no minister should personally or through a member of his family, accept contributions for any purpose, whether political, charitable or otherwise, if any purse or cheque intended for a registered society, or a charitable body, or any institution recognized by a public authority, or political party is presented to him, he should pass it on as soon as possible to the organization for which it is intended.

The ministers were also supposed under the code of conduct to not associate himself with the raising of funds except for the benefit of a registered society, or a charitable body or an institution recognized by the public authority and a political party. “He should, however, ensure that such contributions are sent to a specified officer bearer of the society or body or institution or party concerned and not to him. Nothing hereinbefore shall prevent a minister from being associated with the operation of disbursement of funds raised as above” the code of conduct read.

The code of conduct further laid down that a minister should not accept valuable gifts except from close relatives and he or members of his family should not accept any gifts at all from any person with whom he may have official dealings.

“A minister shall not, nor shall he permit a member of his family to, contract debts of a nature likely to embarrass or to influence him in the discharge of his critical duties” the code read.

It was also ordered that while on official tours, a minister should as far as practicable stay in accommodation belonging to himself or maintained by the government, government undertakings, public bodies or institutions, such as circuit house, Dak Bungalows or in recognized hotels. “He should discourage ostentation or lavishness in parties given to him” the code asked.

The chief minister had the authority to ensure the observance of the code of conduct and would follow such procedure as he might deem fit according to the facts and circumstances of each case for dealing with or determining any alleged or suspected breach of the code.

The chief minister had in a DO to all the ministers, state ministers, deputy ministers, chief parliamentary secretary and parliamentary secretaries said that the requisite information in respect of the details of the assets and the liabilities be disclosed to him within one month. He had further directed that information in regard to the severance of all connections with the conduct and management of any business concern as laid down in the code be supplied to him within three months.

Interestingly in year 2018 the Governor had asked all IAS and KAS officers to furnish the details of their property. More than 24 officers had at that time failed to furnish the required details.

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