Software not uniform for Services, forms of disclosure chosen by cadre controlling authorities

A day after senior IPS officer and head of a Central police organisation, the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), Vikram Srivastava complained that the Union Home Ministry's official website had wrongly listed him as not having filed his annual Immovable Property Returns (IPR) in time, there is a blank against his name when you open the site and scroll down to his name.

Indeed, in the haste to place the IPRs of government servants in the public domain, following the public outcry for transparency, there is a clearly a great deal of confusion, partly because each of the Services has adopted different software.

On the MHA website, click on Indian Police Service on the home page, and out pops a page where “Immovable Property Returns” is highlighted by the word “new” flashing next to it. Click on it, and you are confronted with three boxes — batch, cadre and name — but just below that is a little “note” — “For Full Report please type:- ALL [in Capital letter] in the Name field.” Follow those instructions and an entire list rolls out — except that against many names such as that of Mr. Srivastava, there is a blank. The reader assumes that the person has not filed his or her IPR, but it could simply be that it has not been uploaded.

The Indian Foreign Service's IPRs are easy to access — on the home page, under “About MEA,” it's easy to spot “Immovable Property Returns of IFS,” highlighted again by the word “new,” flashing next to it. Click, then click again on the year, and the names and IPR details are accessible. Here, you need to click on each name, and the property details pop up. However, there are some names against which a blank form with “nil” written below come up — it is not very clear whether those which say “nil” indicate no property or whether the officer concerned has just not filled the IPR forms.

As for the Indian Administrative Service, the list of defaulters can now be accessed on the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) website without filling in the name, cadre or the year, by simply clicking on the submit button. But unlike the MHA website, which tells anyone looking for information that all that is required is to key in ALL in the name field, the DoPT leaves it opaque. Even now, however, there is no instruction on the landing page, which says that the list of IAS defaulters can be accessed by clicking the SUBMIT button.

Curiously, when this correspondent contacted the DoPT about the apparent lack of transparency, this was not explained. Instead, the Joint Secretary concerned, Mamta Kundra, simply said the display system for different Services was not uniform and that the software would be updated soon, and that the forms of disclosure were chosen by the respective cadre controlling authorities.