Non-disclosure of action on politicians assets jump irks SC

By: | Published: September 6, 2017 6:42 PM

The Supreme Court today took strong exception to the Centre's "attitude" of not disclosing information on action taken by it against politicians, some of whose assets have seen a massive jump of up to 500 per cent between two elections.

Supreme Court, centres, Apex courtThe Supreme Court today took strong exception to the Centre’s “attitude” of not disclosing information on action taken by it against politicians, some of whose assets have seen a massive jump of up to 500 per cent between two elections. (Image: IE)

The Supreme Court today took strong exception to the Centre’s “attitude” of not disclosing information on action taken by it against politicians, some of whose assets have seen a massive jump of up to 500 per cent between two elections.  It also directed the government to place the necessary information in this regard before the court.  The apex court said though the government was saying that it was not averse to electoral reforms, it has not placed the necessary details. Even the information furnished before it in an affidavit by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) was “not complete”, it added.  “The information in CBDT affidavit is not complete. Is this the attitude of the Government of India? What have you done till now,” a bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer said.

“The government is saying they are not averse to some reform. Necessary information should be there on record (in the court),” it said and asked the government to file a detailed affidavit before it in this regard by September 12.  The top court was hearing a plea disclosure of sources of income by the candidates contesting elections when they file nomination for elections.  The arguments remained inconclusive and will continue tomorrow.  During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the Centre said free and fair election was integral to the democratic structure of the country and they would welcome any direction passed by the apex court on this aspect.

“The Union of India is having Swachh Bharat (Abhiyan) which will also cover this field. It is not about cleaning of garbage only,” the counsel said, adding “the intention of the Government of India is in the right direction”.  When the counsel referred to the affidavit filed by the CBDT on the issue raised by the petitioner about an alleged jump of up to 500 per cent in politicians assets which they have declared in the nomination paper, the bench said the information given in it was not complete.  “When an affidavit was placed before this court, all information about any inquiry going on (in this regard) should be placed,” the bench observed.

“You better file a detailed affidavit. This affidavit which you have filed is nothing but typed papers. Do not make vague statements. If the CBDT has taken some action, please disclose what action has been taken,” the bench said.  The top court also said the government could also furnish the information in a sealed cover before it.  “If you want that certain information cannot be disclosed to public, you can file it in a sealed cover with reasons why you do not want it to be made public. But please disclose it to the court,” the bench said.

The Centre’s counsel told the court that he would file an affidavit after taking instructions on the issue.  The apex court had earlier issued notices to the Centre and the Election Commission on the plea by NGO Lok Prahari seeking inclusion of a column in the nomination form seeking details of the sources of income. The plea has claimed that the candidates while filing their nomination papers were disclosing their assets, assets of their spouse, children and other dependents, but they do not reveal the sources of income.

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