The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition seeking a direction that elected lawmakers, apart from filing their assets at the time of contesting elections, also reveal the sources of their income.
A Lucknow-based non-profit organisation Lok Prahari has also asked for a direction to Parliament to consider amending the law to disqualify a lawmaker if he has a share or interest in a firm that enters into a business contract with the government or a public company.
A bench headed by justice J Chelameswar issued notices to the Centre and the Election Commission on the petition.
SN Sukhla, founder of Lok Prahari, pointed out that 113 members of Parliament (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 the voters to decide whether the wealth acquired by the candidate is legitimate or not,” Shukla told the bench.
During the previous hearing, the bench had advised Shukla to examine the conflict of interest issues arising from awarding of multi-crore government contracts to elected lawmakers.
“How many people have contracts in the government? This is something which we should be worried about... People borrow hundreds and thousands of crores of rupees and when something goes wrong they fly away from the country,” the bench had observed, asking Shukla to amend his petition.
Till 1950, Section 7(D) of the Representation of People’s Act prevented a legislator from holding office even if he had 1% share in a government contract, the bench noted. But the provision was repealed in 1951.
Shukla told the bench he had not challenged the amendment as of now but would do so later. “In this petition, I am, as of now, seeking changes in the way affidavits are filed,” Shukla said.
The law, as it stands declared by the Supreme Court in a 2014 judgment, does not allow those with subsisting government contracts to contest elections.
As of now, the only requirement for a candidate is to declare his or her assets.