India: Declaration Of Assets Under The Lokpal Act – Applicability To NGOs' And Recent Amendments

Last Updated: 2 September 2016
Article by Seema Jhingan, Neha Yadav and Saniya Kothari

1. Introduction:

1.1 The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 ("Act") was enacted essentially to provide for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for states, to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

1.2 The Act also requires 'public servants' (which includes government employee and office bearers/management of not for profit entities receiving government finance/foreign donations to make certain disclosures of their assets and liabilities as well as that of their spouse and dependent children.

1.3 The past few months saw the Government receiving numerous representations from various stakeholders raising concerns over the challenges being faced by not for profit entities with respect to the requirement of disclosure of assets and liabilities of officers as well as their spouse/dependent children under the Act.

1.4 Consequently, the Government amended the Act to substitute the erstwhile provision Section 44 (which had laid down various compliances relating to disclosures of assets/liabilities) to merely specifying that the form and manner of disclosure would be as prescribed by the Government. The deadline for the disclosures was also deferred to December 31,2016.

1.5 Our discussion below aims at bringing out the various nuances of this much debated requirement of disclosure of assets and liabilities in light of the recent amendments brought in, and the implications thereof particularly on the not-for-profit entities being covered under the Act.

2. Applicability to NGOs:

2.1. The erstwhile Section 44 of the Act required a 'public servant' to furnish information/declaration/annual returns of assets and liabilities of himself and of his spouse and dependent children in the manner and format prescribed under the Act (and rules notified thereunder). 'Public servants' are defined under the Act to inter alia include any person who is or has been a:

  1. Chairperson/member/officer/employee in a society/trust/autonomous body established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly financed by the Central Government or controlled by it;
  2. Director/manager/secretary/officer of every other society or association of persons/trust which is:

    1. wholly or partly financed by the Government and the annual income of which exceeds one (1) crore rupees (with only grants/financial assistance of Central Government being taken into consideration for determining such annual income).

      The above provision has however caused some confusion. Arguably it appears that only entities receiving financial assistance from the Central Government and having an annual income in excess of the above threshold would get covered (and not entities receiving financial assistance from State Government). However, it can also be argued that while entities receiving financial assistance from any Government (including even the State Government) would be covered if the entity has an annual income of One Crore (provided only the grants given by the Central Government may be taken into consideration for determining the threshold of One Crore annual income). Therefore, the applicability of this Act to state funded NGO's still remains unclear.
    2. in receipt of any donation from any foreign source under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 in excess of ten (10) lakh rupees in a year.

The requirement of filing of annual returns of assets and liabilities also continues till such time as the financial assistance received or the entire amount of the donation received stands fully utilized, as applicable.

3. Recent Amendments:

3.1. As mentioned above, the last date of making these filings has been deferred to December 31, 2016. Further, the original Section 44 has been replaced with a substituted Section 44 vide the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Act 2016 ("Amendment Act")1 to read as under:

"44. On and from the date of commencement of this Act, every public servant shall make a declaration of his assets and liabilities in such form and manner as may be prescribed."

3.2. The Amendment Act also substituted Section 59(k) of the Act with the following provision:

"(k) the form and manner of declaration of assets and liabilities by public servants under section 44:

Provided that the rules may be made under this clause retrospectively from the date on which the provisions of this Act came into force;"

3.3. Interestingly, the Amendment Act only refers to assets and liabilities of the public servant in Section 44 and does not include any reference to disclosure of asset and liabilities of their spouses and dependent children (as provided earlier). However, the existing formats notified under the relevant rules2, have not been amended so far and continue to contain references to assets and liabilities of spouses and dependents of the public servant.

The Act reserves the right of the Government to stipulate the form and manner of disclosure of assets, which may be made applicable retrospectively, the actual nature of the disclosure required would become clearer when such notification is introduced by the Government.

That said, it may be worthwhile to refer to the Report of the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment Bill, 2014 (although the same was never passed in the Parliament) ("Standing Committee Report"), which suggested that the Act be amended to so as to exclude declaration of assets acquired by the family members of the public servants through their own income or from sources independent of the public servant. Therefore, it is possible that even if spouse and dependent children are later included within the scope of Section 44, the declarations are limited to this extent.

3.4. The amended Section 44 (unlike the earlier provision) also does not refer to publication of the information/returns of the public servant on the website of the relevant Ministry/Department. This is also in line with the Standing Committee Report's suggestions that such information/return should only be furnished to the competent authority and not be made generally available to the public to avoid misuse of such information. Therefore, it appears that such requirement may not be imposed again by the Government when it notifies the manner and form of disclosures at a later stage.

4. Consequences of non-declaration:

4.1. In case the public servant fails to declare assets and/or gives misleading information thereof, then such assets are presumed to belong to the public servant and are presumed to be assets acquired by corrupt means. Such undeclared assets can be made subject to inquiries by the Lokpal in accordance with the Act.

4.2. Further, since public servants under the Act are also deemed to be a 'public servant' under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the provisions thereof also applies to such persons. As per Section 13 of PCRA, any person who "by corrupt or illegal means, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage" is said to have committed an offence of criminal misconduct, which is punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than four (4) years extendable up to ten (10) years.

4.3. The Act, also allows for attachment (or confiscation) of property relatable to the offence during the proceedings, which will then vest in the Central Government if the person is convicted.

5. Concluding Remarks:

5.1. The NGOs have been concerned that the wide disclosures of assets and liabilities sought under the erstwhile Act the severe consequences of non-compliance, are likely to adversely affect their operations and make it difficult for them to get experienced trustees/office bearers on board. The situation becomes further complicated as it appears that the Act also applies to resigned officers of the NGO's as the definition of public servant under the Act refers to any person "who is or has been" an officer of the entity in question. Therefore, it appears that even if the officers resign from their office as of the current date, they would still need to file the requisite information/returns for the years that they were in office if the entity in such years would have been covered under the Act.

5.2. By virtue of the recent amendments, a temporary relief seems to have been granted to public servants (which includes the office bearers of NGOs falling under the purview of the Act) from filing the requisite declarations/information/return. While, the exact nature of disclosures required would only become clear once the Government issues further notifications/clarifications in this regard, hopefully, the Government will be able to re-assess the disclosure requirements in a manner that addresses the ambiguities present therein and the other challenges that have been highlighted by the various stakeholders in the past.


1 The Amendment Act received assent of the President on July 29, 2016, and has deemed to have come into force on January 16, 2014.

2 Public Servants (Furnishing of Information and Annual Return of Assets and Liabilities and the Limits for Exemption of Assets in Filing Returns) Rules, 2014.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Seema Jhingan
Neha Yadav
Saniya Kothari
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions