NEW DELHI: The Centre has allowed officers from All-India Services like IAS and IPS to accept and retain gifts they receive from foreign dignitaries as members of Indian delegation, in line with the Foreign Contribution (Acceptance or Retention of Gifts or Presentations) Rules, 2012, that govern acceptance of gifts by VIPs on foreign visits.
The rules require recipients of gifts from foreign dignitaries to deposit them in the ‘toshakhana’ for evaluation by customs appraiser to assess their market value. The recipient is then informed about the assessed market value of the gift by the toshakhana. If the value is less than Rs 5,000, the gift is returned to the recipient for retention. However, if the value exceeds Rs 5,000, the recipient is offered the option to purchase the gift on payment of difference between the market value and Rs 5,000.
Interestingly, there was no provision until now in the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968, with regard to receipt or retention of gifts received from foreign dignitaries by All-India Services officers while being part of the Indian delegation or otherwise. The rules merely covered gifts received from near relatives of personal friends having no official dealings with them on occasions like wedding or religious functions, etc. The bureaucrat was required to report any gift with value exceeding Rs 25,000, to the government.
To address the gap in conduct rules as regards gifts from foreign dignitaries, the government in a gazette notification dated September 15, 2021, added a sub-section to Section 11 of the AIS (Conduct) Rules that deals with acceptance of gifts by senior bureaucrats. The new sub-section allows officers to receive and retain gifts as per the same set of rules that govern acceptance of gifts by VIPs from foreign dignitaries.
Earlier in March 202, the Centre had circulated the draft proposal for amendment to AIS(Conduct) Rules, to the states and UTs for their comments.