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Centre tells SC it needs more time to implement electoral reforms

The SC had also ruled that before contesting polls politicians, their spouses and associates would have to declare all sources of income and assets.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2019 10:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
electoral reforms,supreme court,central govt
TIn an affidavit filed before the SC last week, the Union law and justice ministry said the court’s suggestions required wider deliberations and consultation with stakeholders. (HT File )

Over a year after the Supreme Court (SC) issued directions on electoral reforms, including one on having a permanent machinery to monitor the wealth of lawmakers, the Centre is yet to take a final call on establishing such a mechanism. It has informed the court that it needs more time for the task.

In an affidavit filed before the SC last week, the Union law and justice ministry said the court’s suggestions required wider deliberations and consultation with stakeholders.

A Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi-led bench on March 12 had asked for details of the steps taken by the Centre to implement the SC’s February 2018 verdict asking it to monitor the exponential growth of assets of the elected representatives.

It sought an affidavit within two weeks in this regard while hearing Lucknow-based activist group Lok Prahari’s contempt petition. The SC’s February 2018 judgement was based on a public interest litigation Lok Prahari.

The SC had also ruled that before contesting polls politicians, their spouses and associates would have to declare all sources of income and assets.

“The issue because of its nature needs wider deliberations and consultation amongst the stakeholders, and would be a comparatively time-consuming process,” said the affidavit. Union law ministry’s legislative department secretary, G Narayana Raju, filed the affidavit.

Representatives of state governments and legislative bodies attended a November 2018 meeting in view of the judgement under Rajya Sabha secretary general Desh Deepak Verma’s chairmanship.

Two divergent views emerged on how to place an institutional mechanism for the monitoring at the end of the discussion, according to the affidavit filed last week.

Some felt it should be within the framework of the legislative departments of state governments, while others said a different model imparting more independence to such a mechanism should be envisaged, according to the affidavit.

Raju suggested a second round of discussion to Verma, who said it was now for the Union law ministry to decide on the basis of the inputs it had received, according to the affidavit

In the affidavit, the ministry said it would give “fresh consideration to the issue in the wake of the latest development highlighted by the Rajya Sabha secretariat”. The ministry’s response acknowledged the subject matter was important as a permanent authority would become necessary in case of disqualification of lawmakers.

The affidavit asked for more time to comply with the court order. “The subject matter of setting up of a permanent mechanism still needs more deliberation and consultation, for which the court is prayed for granting more time keeping in view that Union of India is seized of the issue and the necessary consultation and action has already been initiated.”

First Published: Apr 19, 2019 10:06 IST