One major indicator of the extent of corruption in Assam is the fact that some of the officers of the Assam Civil Service (ACS) have doggedly refused to furnish their annual property returns despite repeated reminders and the guidelines of their service rules. According to the provisions of the Assam Civil Service (Conduct) Rules, 1965, officers should submit their annual property returns before January 31 every year. However, 121 out of 688 (17.59 per cent) ACS officers have not submitted their annual property returns this year. Such a situation can arise only when these officers have much to hide but have not found the time or the means to conceal their assets that are often well beyond their known sources of income. In certain cases their newly acquired assets (with houses or apartments in Delhi, Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Pune and elsewhere) are so substantially above their possible savings that the annual return of property would expose their corrupt practices quite umbiguously. Therefore they are collectively buying time by not submitting returns despite repeated reminders. But since their tribe is bound to increase in the coming years, the State government must act now. There is nothing that prevents the State government from first suspending the errant officers and then dismissing them from service and initiating crimil proceedings against them simultaneously unless the issue of repeated reminders is being carried out only as an empty ritual. A government that waxes eloquent on transparency and accountability and a Chief Minister who lost no time in introducing the Right to Information Bill soon after he assumed office in 2001 ought to be justly ashamed that these officers are being allowed to go scot-free.
Shy of Property Returns