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Dependents, Spouse of Candidate to Reveal Assets Before Polls: SC

A bench of Justice J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO Lok Prahari.

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The Supreme Court on Friday, 16 February, made disclosure of income sources mandatory for spouses and dependants of candidates fighting elections to the Parliament and state legislatures, reported Live Law.

A bench of Justice J Chelameswar and SA Nazeer announced the decision while allowing the prayers of PIL filed by an NGO, Lok Prahari, Live Law said.

The PIL was filed seeking effective measures to prevent politicians from accumulating disproportionate assets.

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The same bench had reserved judgement on 12 Septermber 2017, while directing the Central Boards of Direct Taxes to file an affidavit on what action had been taken against the politicians whose assets shot up by over 500 percent after assuming office or were suspected of amassing disproportionate wealth.

The CBDT had last year said that it was investigating seven MPs and 98 MLAs and a preliminary assessment of another 42 MLAs was in the works, after the apex court had rejected its first affidavit on 7 September calling it too vague.

The Centre had assured the bench during the hearing that it would amend the Form 26 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 used during Assembly Elections and Lok Sabha Elections to file affidavits with the nomination papers before the returning officers within three months.

The Election Commission is the body that recommended the amendment after the NGO's PIL for information about the source of income of the candidates and their spouses and dependents, according to the Live Law report.

The founder of Lok Prahari (NGO) is also looking for a declaration whether the candidates or their spouse and dependant have any other contracts with the government or public organisations or hold any shares/interest in a private company.

The bench also said that the government should notify the criminal courts to try the politicians in corruption cases, in order to ensure quick action against the defaulters.

Live Law further said that Justice Chelameswar questioned whether the rise in the assets of politicians during the last few years was a product of ineffective investigation or is some sort of 'immunity' provided to them?

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(With inputs from Live Law.)

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