In a landmark decision, the Madhya Pradesh government has decided to make public the property details of state ministers and bureaucrats.
The property details of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and other cabinet ministers will be tabled in the coming assembly session, while those of bureaucrats and police officers would be put up on a website.
The decision, taken in an unofficial cabinet meeting on Monday, makes Madhya Pradesh probably the first state in the country to make such an effort. All cabinet ministers have agreed to table their property details on the first day of the coming assembly session.
The state government's decision has come following another decision of the State Information Commission regarding the declaration of property details of administrative officers in the state.
The decision, in response to an appeal to the commission by the Deputy Leader of Opposition in the state, Rakesh Singh Chaudhary, was given by the presiding officer of the State Information Commission, P. P. Tiwari.
The appellant had demanded that all civil servants should declare their property details as it concerns matters of public interest. The appellant had argued that if public representatives like Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies had to declare their property details even before assuming positions of power, then bureaucrats, who already enjoy power, should not be exempted from declaring their property details.
Rejecting concerns over the encroachment of privacy of bureaucrats, raised by a section of officials, Mr. Tiwari's decision clearly directs the public information officers (PIOs) of the state government's General Administration Department, the State Secretariat Vallabh Bhawan and the State Home Department to provide the details sought by the appellant.
“Looking at the seriousness of the matter, it is expected of the PIOs of all departments concerned to ensure that all public officials necessarily put up the details of their properties on a website even if this information is not demanded by citizens. This will help citizens keep an eye on public servants,” reads the decision of the commission.