Elections 2019: CJI questions Centre on failing to implement assets disclosure clause for contestants

New Delhi: In a move to make it tough to corrupt the upcoming contest polls, the SC on Tuesday questioned Centre on why Conduct of Election rules has been not implemented as directed by SC’s 2018 ruling which mandates the disclosure of assets and sources of income of contesting candidates, spouses and dependants while filing nomination.

The Apex Court’s attention in this failure was drawn by NGO ‘Lok Prahari’ who had sought initiation of contempt proceedings against the Centre for failing to implement the directives, TOI reports.

The bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna then directed the secretary of the legislative department in the Union law ministry to explain why it had failed to implement a series of directions issued by the apex court in its February 16, 2018 judgment intending to empower voters to make an informed choice.

When CJI was informed about the Centre’s failure in implementing the issued directives, CJI asked why the government has failed in setting up a permanent mechanism, as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2018, to investigate any unnatural increase in the assets of a legislator or their spouses and dependants during their tenure as member of the House.

The Apex Court had last year said: “Increase in assets of legislators and/or spouses or dependants disproportionate to their known sources of income is, by compelling inference, a constitutionally impermissible conduct and may eventually constitute offences punishable under PC Act.

“It is necessary to have a permanent mechanism dedicated to the task. Such mechanism is required to periodically collect data of legislators and their respective spouses and dependants and examine in every case whether there is a disproportionate increase in the assets and recommend action in appropriate cases either to prosecute the legislator or her/his spouse and dependants or place information before appropriate legislature to consider eligibility of such legislators to continue to be members of the concerned House.”

Not only did the Apex Court asked for disclosure of assets but has also directed the Centre to put data in the public domain to enable voters to take an informed decision.

The CJI led bench had asked the legislative secretary as to why rules were not implemented so far.

“Non-disclosure of assets and sources of income of the candidates, their spouses and dependants would constitute a corrupt practice falling under the heading ‘undue influence’ as defined under Section 123(2) of RP Act, 1951,” the court said.