New Delhi, January 4
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Centre and the Election Commission on a plea by NGO, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), to intervene in a PIL case for making politicians declare their sources of income in their nominations for contesting elections. A bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar sought the response of the government and the EC as ADR’s counsel Kamini Jaiswal pleaded that the NGO had invariably been in the forefront of electoral reforms. The petitioner, another NGO Lok Prahari, has contended that the Representation of People (RP) Act mandated candidates contesting elections to declare their assets in their nomination papers, but not the source or how they accumulated these. Also, Section 9A in the amended RP Act, 1951, was meant only for disqualification of candidates having business contracts with the government. This was in fact a diluted version of the earlier Section 7D which had provided for disqualification of candidates for having any business interest, either directly or through close family members, in any organisation holding government contracts. Citing official statistics, the PIL said the wealth of at least a dozen Lok Sabha MPs had gone up five times in the past five years. “The voters have the right to know that the growth of politicians’ wealth is commensurate with their known sources of income and through legitimate means.” There was no place in democracy for those who lacked integrity or character, the petition contended. People had the right to know the antecedents of the contesting candidates to make an informed choice and this was possible only if the sources of their income were disclosed, he argued. Earlier, the NGO had filed a PIL that resulted in the apex court ruling under which lawmakers would automatically stand disqualified as MPs or MLAs upon their conviction in corruption cases or being sentenced for two years or more in other criminal cases.