Centre allows IAS, IPS officers to retain gifts received from foreign dignitaries

The Personnel Ministry has amended the rules and inserted a new sub-rule under Section 11 of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968.

The Centre has amended over a 50-year-old rule to allow IAS, IPS and IFoS officers to retain gifts received from foreign dignitaries while being members of the Indian delegation, according to an official Order.

Existing rules allowed these officers to accept gifts from their near relatives or from personal friends having no official dealings with them, on occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, funerals and religious functions when the making of gifts is in conformity with the prevailing religious and social practice.

But they shall make a report to the government if the value of such gift exceeds ₹25,000, the rules say.

Gifts include free transport, free boarding, free lodging or any other service or pecuniary advantage when provided by a person other than a near relative or personal friend having no official dealings with the officer but does not include a casual meal, casual lift or other social hospitality.

“No member of the service shall accept any gift without the sanction of the government if the value of a gift exceeds ₹5,000,” says the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968, applicable to the officers of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS).

Member of the service shall avoid accepting lavish hospitality or frequent hospitality from persons having official dealings with them or from industrial or commercial firms or other organisations, these rules say.

The Personnel Ministry has now amended these rules and inserted a new sub-rule under Section 11 of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968.

“…a member of the service, being a member of the Indian delegation or otherwise, may receive and retain gifts from foreign dignitaries in accordance with the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Acceptance or Retention of Gifts or Presentations) Rules, 2012, as amended from time-to-time,” read the recently amended rule.

The Personnel Ministry had in March last year sought comments from State governments on the proposed rules.

“…presently there are no provisions under the AIS (Conduct) Rules, 1968, with regard to receipt/retention of gifts from foreign dignitaries by members of the AIS being a member of Indian delegation or otherwise. Therefore, it has been decided with the approval of a competent authority to insert a new sub-rule…,” it had said in a communiqué dated March 3 last year.

They were asked to send responses by March 31, 2020, positively failing which would be “presumed that the state government has no objection to the proposed amendments”.

Gifts received from foreign dignitaries, from known or unknown sources, are usually deposited with the ‘toshakhana’ – a repository of such articles – in the Ministry of External Affairs.

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