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Parties welcome SC ruling on candidates’ source of income, say it will clean up polls

The law currently says a candidate is required to disclose the details of the assets and liabilities for themselves, spouse and three dependents in Form 26 while filing the nomination paper but not the source of the income.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2018 13:31 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Patna
Elections in India,Supreme Court,Election process
The Supreme Court has ruled that candidates contesting elections will have to declare the sources of their income along with those of their family.(HT file photo)

Several political parties on Friday said the Supreme Court’s ruling that candidates contesting elections will have to declare the sources of their income along with those of their family members will help clean up the country’s electoral system.

A bench of justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer passed the order while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Lok Prahari, a Lucknow-based NGO against corruption. The NGO had sought the top court’s direction to make it mandatory for candidates to declare not only their income but also its source.

Opposition parties, including the Congress, Samajwadi Party and CPI(M), welcomed the top court’s direction as a good step that will bring in more probity in electoral politics.

The law currently says a candidate is required to disclose the details of the assets and liabilities for themselves, spouse and three dependents in Form 26 while filing the nomination paper but not the source of the income.

“Basically one has to duplicate his or her income tax return and submit it to the Election Commission. This is definitely a good step to further clean up the elections,” Congress leader Manish Tewari said.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, however, took a cautious stance, saying “allowing the PIL yet not the prayers requiring legislative action may mean no change since almost reliefs require legislation”.

“The judgment may be well-intentioned but both GOD and the Devil lie in the details ( or their absence)... Secondly, “source of income” remains an ill-defined concept and its ascertainment an even more uncertain journey,” Singhvi, a lawyer, said.

“Thirdly, the ideal solution on the subject matter in question would be a detailed nitty-gritty procedural code, ill-suited to judicial orders in PILs,” he added.

CPI(M) politburo member Md Salim said his party fully supported the ruling. “The Election Commission at times preferred to look at the expenditure side of the poll and ignored the source of fundings,” he added.

The ruling Janata Dal(United) in Bihar and ally of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) said the new norms would help check the use of black money in elections. JD(U)leader Sanjay Jha said his party welcomed any move that is aimed at ushering transparency.

“This is a welcome step and part of the electoral reforms. At least, this will now bring in more accountability on the aspiring candidates of assembly and Lok Sabha polls as they can no longer hide their black money invested in the name of their spouse and children,” the party’s national general secretary KC Tyagi said.

The BJP’s Bihar unit president Nityanand Rai called the top court’s ruling as a necessary step for checking black money in elections. “We welcome the SC ruling. This is a good step and will make elections free of black money,” he said.

However, the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), whose chief Lalu Prasad has been jailed in fodder scam cases, took a guarded view on the ruling.

“There is nothing new in the ruling. Previously also candidates contesting the polls had to declare the source of income of their dependents including wife,” RJD’s national vice president Shivanand Tiwary said.

Tiwary said declaring the source of income of dependents including children was alright but there should be more clarity on whether the contestant has to declare the income of their children, who are living independently with their own source of income.

“We need to study the ruling before we comment on it,” he said.

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 13:30 IST