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SC talks tough on 'tainted' law-makers

SC talks tough on tainted   law-makers
They are social activists, housewives or those without any adequate sources of income, as per their declarations. However, their assets grew undeterred by 5 to 10 folds in just five years between two subsequent elections! Taking serious note of the mercurial rise in the movable and immovable properties of these MPs and MLAs during their tenure as lawmakers, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to file a comprehensive report before the Court by September 12, regarding actions and inquiries conducted against as many as 289 politicians – under the judicial radar. Taking strong exception, the Apex Court bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer, while hearing a plea concerning disclosure of sources of income by the candidates contesting elections while they file their nominations, criticised the Centre's laid back approach in not disclosing information on action initiated against politicians – of which properties of a few had witnessed a rocketing rise up to 500 per cent between two elections. During the hearing, senior advocate K Radhakrishnan, the counsel representing the Centre claimed that a 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. Claiming that the Central government's intention is good in eradication of corruption from politics, when the counsel referred to the CBDT's affidavit in connection with the issues raised by the petitioner, i.e. the alleged jump of up to 500 per cent in politicians' properties, the bench did not appear satisfied with the response and asked why the Centre is shying away from a probe as the information is in the public domain and authorities had to simply find out if it was possible to acquire property from known sources of income. Declaring the affidavit incomplete, Justice Chelameswar categorically said: "If you say you (government) believe in action, you show you are bona fide by filing an affidavit depicting the action taken against those legislators whose income had grown manifold against known sources of income." Granting permission to the government for furnishing the information in a sealed cover if necessary, the Court said: "If you want that certain information cannot be disclosed to the public, you can file it in a sealed cover with reasons stating why you do not want it to be made public. But please disclose it to the court." The Supreme Court had earlier issued notices to the Central Government and the Election Commission on the plea by Lucknow-based NGO Lok Prahari seeking inclusion of a column in the nomination form seeking details of the sources of income. Incidentally, the plea said that though the candidates disclosed their assets, assets of their spouse, children and other dependents while filing their nomination papers, they never reveal the real sources of income. The petitioner had also requested that a thorough probe must be conducted to find the source of income and also assess whether the property amassed was done through legal means. Incidentally, the Supreme Court had also taken cognizance of the report, made by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) – which had also moved an intervention application in the case, which claimed that 77 per cent of the total income declared by the BJP and Congress in 2016-17 came from 'unknown sources' and one-fourth of it had remained with the 'tainted' leaders. Based on declarations submitted by the parties to the Election Commission, this report said that while the BJP has declared income of Rs 459.56 crore as 'voluntary contributions' and Rs 1.2 crore as 'miscellaneous income', the Congress has declared Rs 16.80 crore from 'voluntary contributions', Rs 1.2 crore as 'miscellaneous' and Rs 167 crore from 'sale of coupons'. "The details of donors of such voluntary contributions are not available in the public domain," the report claimed. The report has further revealed that while the assets of four current Lok Sabha MPs have increased by a whopping 1200 per cent, 22 MPs have declared an asset increase of over 500 per cent.

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