More than 50 per cent of the state’s 224 MLAs have not filed their assets and liabilities with the Lokayukta. The legislators had to submit the returns, including their family income, by June 30.
There is a grace period of two more months to file ‘with explanation’ for the delay, but this is the first time in recent years that 145 MLAs have failed to furnish their details. Sources said that as on July 3, only 79 MLAs have filed the assets and liabilities. The Lokayukta Act states: “Every public servant shall submit to the Lokayukta in the prescribed form, a statement of assets and liabilities and those of the members of his family before June 30 of every year.” According to Lokayukta sources, 58 MLCs have also not filed the returns before the deadline.
If the MLAs and MLCs miss the two month grace period, their names would be published by the Lokayukta in three newspapers in the state, as a form of public shaming. But Lokayukta officials admit that they do not have powers to do anything more beyond this. Also, if there are errors or lies in the documents filed, they are powerless to act till someone complains about it to them.
“In my personal opinion, every return filed should be scrutinised, more so when there is a second time MLA and such successive MLAs. And, an amendment should allow Lokayukta to take up investigation if the declaration found to be either incorrect or incomplete. After all, the purpose of declaration is to verify the difference in the assets and liabilities of the legislators,” Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi said.
Justice Adi wants an amendment to section 22 of the Lokayukta Act. As per the present Act, Lokayukta cannot scrutinise the returns filed and take action against the legislators.
The Act says any member of the public after verifying the authenticity of the legislators declarations can file complaint.
Only upon such complaints, the Lokayukta can direct for filing of criminal case against the legislators for filing incorrect details or hiding details in the returns filed.