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Declaring bank accounts, investments and liabilities in foreign locations will be mandatory for candidates contesting in the 2014 general elections.
The Election Commission (EC), in bid to have more transparency in financial status of the candidates, has asked chief electoral officers to seek information regarding their foreign bank accounts and informed the political parties of the same.
“It is clarified that the details of bank accounts, assets and liabilities to be furnished in the affidavit should in variably include the details of all deposits/investments in foreign banks and any other body/institution abroad, and details of all assets and liabilities in foreign countries,” Ashish Chakraborty, a secretary in election commission told political parties.
“The move will plug a major loophole in Form 26 which allowed the candidates to evade valuable information about their financial status,” said Nripendra Mishra, director of Public Interest Foundation.
The Election Commission believes that the move could help the Income Tax department to step-up its drive against tax evasion by politicians.
“We share the income and liability details with the Income Tax so that they can seek explanation in case their found any discrepancy,” an official said.
However, many believe that the move may have a limited impact as most people are unlikely to open accounts in foreign banks to stash black money in their own name or that of their close family members.
The Supreme Court had recently said that the commission has powers to debar a candidate from contesting an election if he or she provides false information in the affidavits to be submitted along with the nomination papers.
As per an estimate by Global Financial Integrity report of 2012, black money of Indians worth $ 232 billion was deposited abroad.
India is also ranked among top 10 developing countries to have money deposited in foreign accounts.