Kapil Sharma show controversy- No code of conduct for ministers?

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Punjab local bodies and tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu wants to continue entertaining his fans on the hugely popular television show The Kapil Sharma Show. His decision has created a controversy with questions of “conflict of interest” being raised about all and sundry.

His boss, Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, has quickly decided to take legal opinion from the state’s advocate general on whether his all-rounder cabinet colleague can continue to be on the TV show, saying he does not know what the Constitution or the law says on the matter.

However, a code of conduct for ministers already exists. While the code prohibits ministers from carrying on any business, its applicability in the former cricketer-turned-politician’s case will depend on the nature of his deal with the channel or the show producer, details of which are not in public domain. The observance of the code, issued by the Union ministry of home affairs, is to be ensured by Prime Minister in case of Union minister and the CMs, and the CM for state ministers.

 

WHAT DOES THE CODE SAY:

A person immediately after becoming a minister, and in any case within two months from the date of assumption of office, shall disclose to PM, or CM details of the assets and liabilities, and business interests, of himself and his family members. These need to include shares and debentures, cash holdings and jewellery; Sever all connections, short of divesting himself of the ownership, with the management of any business in which he was interested before his appointment; and divest himself of all his interests with regard to a business which supplies goods or services to that government or its undertakings or whose business primarily depends on licenses, permits, quotas, etc, received or to be received from it.

After taking office, and so long as he remains in office, the minister has to furnish annually by August 31 to PM or CM, as the case may be, a declaration regarding his assets and liabilities for the previous financial year; refrain from buying from or selling to, the government any immovable property except where such property is compulsorily acquired by the government in usual course; refrain from starting, or joining, any business; ensure that the members of his family do not start, or participate in, business concerns, engaged in supplying goods or services to that Government (excepting in the usual course of trade or business and at standard or market rates) or dependent primarily on grant of licenses, permits, quotas, leases, etc., from that Government; and report the matter to the Prime Minister, or the Chief Minister as the case may be, if any member of his family sets up, or joins in the conduct and management of, any other business.

No minister should personally, or through a member of his family, accept contribution for any purpose, whether political, charitable or otherwise. If any purse or cheque intended for a registered society, or a charitable body, or an institution recognised by a public authority, or a political party is presented to him, he should pass it on as soon as possible to the organisation for which it is intended.

A minister, including the Union ministers, the CMs and other ministers of state governments/union territories, should not permit their spouse and dependents to accept employment under a foreign government, in India or abroad, or in a foreign organisation (including commercial concerns) without prior approval of PM. Where the wife or a dependent of a Minister is already in such employment, the matter should be reported to PM for decision whether the employment should or should not continue. As a general rule, there should be total prohibition on employment with a foreign Mission.

How many state governments and ministers comply with these provisions is anybody’s guess.