The Central Board of Direct Taxes had been taking action whenever it found there were unexplained known sources of income.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to furnish details of the action taken against MLAs and members of Parliament whose assets had grown manifold during the intervening period between one election to another.
A bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and S.A. Abdul Nazeer passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Lok Prahari, an NGO, that the present practice of candidates filing an affidavit disclosing their income must also give information about the source of income of the candidate and his/her spouse and dependants.
Senior advocate K. Radhakrishan, appearing for the Centre, told the court the “government believes in action and is not averse to reforms”. The Central Board of Direct Taxes had been taking action whenever it found there were unexplained known sources of income.
He said while an investigation into the affairs of those contesting polls as a class was not undertaken, specific cases where there was reason to undertake verification were enquired into. These include those where specific references are received from the Election Commission.
Justice Chelameswar told the counsel the Association of Democratic Rights had filed an affidavit indicating the number of legislators whose income had grown hugely in the past five years when they filed the first affidavit of assets and the subsequent affidavit.
The judge said: “If you say you (government) believe in action, you show your bona fides by filing an affidavit showing the action taken against those legislators whose income had grown manifold against known sources of income. You tell us (by September 12) what action you had taken on the representation by ADR and how such complaints are dealt with. Instead of making vague statements, provide us necessary information.”
The petitioners submitted that candidates contesting Assembly and parliamentary elections must not only disclose the income, including that of family members, but also the source from where such income is derived. It also pleaded that candidates should declare whether they or their spouses/dependants have any contracts with the government or a public company, or any share or interest in a private company.
It was pointed out that 113 MPs had shown themselves as social activists or housewives or those without any adequate source of income. However, their assets seemed to have gone up by 5-10 times, the petitioner said. “How is that possible? The source must be declared to enable voters to decide whether the wealth acquired by the candidate is legitimate or not.” The arguments will continue on September 12.