Bengaluru, (DHNS): Nothing seems to be prompting legislators to submit annual statements of assets and liabilities before the Lokayukta. As on date, 36 legislators are yet to submit their statements of returns to the Lokayukta for 2017-18.
Section 22 (1) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act mandates MLAs and MLCs to declare their assets and liabilities every year before June 30. The Act empowers the Lokayukta to forward a report to the governor with a list of legislators who failed to submit the returns. After two months, Lokayukta can publish the names of the legislators who failed to submit the statements. Sources in the Lokayukta said last year, three legislators – MLA from Manvi Raja Venkatappa Naik and two MLCs R B Thimmapur and K T Srikante Gowda - had failed to submit the statements even after giving additional time.
"The Act (Lokayukta Act) does not stipulate as to when the Lokayukta should send the report to the Governor after June 30. Last year, we gave more time and tried to reach out to legislators, asking them to submit the statements. Yet, three of them did not submit their statements. The names of these legislators were published in the newspapers. With no provision to act against legislators who fail to submit the statements, the office has decided to write to such legislators this year, giving 10 days' time after receiving the letter.
A few have turned up after receiving the letter. However, 36 legislators have not filed the statements till date. The list includes a few ministers as well,’’ an official said.
A senior official said that the Lokayukta Act needs amendments to submission of assets and liability statements. "We feel that the time of submission of yearly statement should be parallel to submission of returns to the Income Tax Department. The Act should also specify the action to be taken against legislators who fail to submit even after the stipulated time,’’ the official said.
The Lokayukta Act does not have any provision for action against the legislators for not submitting their returns. However, based on the complaint from the public, on instances of furnishing false information, the office of the Lokayukta can file a criminal complaint. So far, two legislators have been convicted for furnishing false information.
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