New Delhi, Feb 16: In a landmark order for electoral reforms, the Supreme Court on Friday said candidates contesting polls will now have to disclose their sources of income and that of their family members. The ruling will bring more transparency in the poll process and help authorities to keep a tab on the growth of lawmakers’ assets. Till now, candidates only needed to reveal their income, not the sources. Also Read - Supreme Court To Start 'Hybrid Mode' Hearings on Experimental Basis From March 15
A bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar allowed the plea of an NGO Lok Prahari seeking court’s direction to make it mandatory for candidates to declare not only their assets but also the source of the asset. The NGO sought a direction to include a column in the nomination form to list details of a candidate’s sources of income. It also alleged a significant increase in the assets of 26 Lok Sabha MPs, 11 Rajya Sabha MPs and 257 MLAs, as was reflected in their election affidavits. Also Read - There Should be Some Screening: Supreme Court Seeks OTT Regulations From Centre
In September last year, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) told the Supreme Court that ‘substantial increases’ in assets of seven Lok Sabha parliamentarians and 98 state lawmakers are under scanner. This came in response to a direction by the top court seeking details of the steps the Centre had taken to verify the sources of income of lawmakers whose assets increased many folds in just one term as elected representatives. Also Read - Dissent Cannot be Termed Seditious, Says Supreme Court; Junks Plea Against Farooq Abdullah
According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), assets of four current Lok Sabha MPs had increased by 12 times while 22 others declared a five-fold increase in their assets.