DAINIK NATION BUREAU
Taking cognizance on the lawmakers becoming richer, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered that all candidates contesting elections would have to disclose sources of their income. Even they have to disclose their family members income source too.
The landmark verdict pronounced by a Bench led by Justice J Chelameswar on a petition filed by an NGO, Lok Prahari, which wanted candidates to declare sources of their income, including those of their family members/close relatives.
While filing nomination papers, candidates have been disclosing their assets, assets of their spouses, children and other dependents, but they were not revealing the sources of income, SN Shukla of Lok Prahari had contended. The petitioner had demanded inclusion of a column in the nomination form to list details of a candidate’s sources of income.
Allowing the petitioner’s prayer, the Bench said, “Only those which require amendment to the law are not allowed as it is up to Parliament to take a decision.”
As many as 98 MLAs and seven Lok Sabha MPs, whose assets witnessed manifold increase in a short span of time, were under investigation, the Central Board of Direct Taxes told the Supreme Court in September 2017. In an affidavit on disproportionate assets of elected politicians, the CBDT had said a preliminary assessment of assets of 42 more MLAs was being examined.
The petitioner had alleged a substantial increase in assets of 26 Lok Sabha MPs, 11 Rajya Sabha MPs and 257 MLAs, as reflected in election affidavits. Of the 257 MLAs, the CBDT had said 98 MLAs were found to have substantially increased assets and were being further probed.
The Income Tax Department would further investigate assets of seven of the 26 Lok Sabha MPs who had a huge increase in assets, the CBDT had said, adding that it had shared the probe status and result with regard to elected representatives with the Election Commission. No further probe had been taken up against any Rajya Sabha MP.
The CBDT had submitted the names of lawmakers under probe in a sealed cover to the top court, which was hearing the PIL filed on disclosure of sources of income by the candidates when they filed nomination for elections.
According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) that works for electoral reforms, assets of four current Lok Sabha MPs have increased 12 times while 22 others declared five-fold increase in their assets.
A newly elected Rajya Sabha MP declared an asset growth of over 21 times since his last affidavit. Seven other newly elected Rajya Sabha MPs have declared two-fold asset increase, said ADR, an intervener in the case.
During the last hearing, the Centre’s counsel had asserted that the government was all for electoral reforms, saying, “The Swachh Bharat (Abhiyan) is not only about cleaning of garbage. it’s also about free and fair election, cleaning of the electoral system.” But the Bench was not impressed.
Another Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is seized of a PIL seeking a lifetime ban on convicted politicians from contesting elections and holding party posts.
‘Parliament, EC failed to address problem’
Democracies with higher levels of energy have already… addressed problem. Unfortunately, in our country, neither Parliament, nor EC has paid any attention to the problem so far. — SC Bench