Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL), the Supreme Court on Wednesday, September 6, took the centre to task for not disclosing action taken against politicians whose assets have jumped manifold between two elections.
The apex court has given the centre seven days’ time to submit the necessary information before it.
The PIL was filed filed by Lucknow-based NGO Lok Prahari, that wants amendment in election law to make it necessary for a candidate to disclose his and his family’s sources of income at the time of filing nomination form, Hindustan Times reported.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is tasked action against politicians whose assets have seen an enormous jump, in some cases by as high as 500%, after their elections. The government’s counsel failed to provide data on how many enquiries the CBDT initiated action against.
The advocate representing the centre said the government was “serious” about its intention to clean the system.
“All stakeholders need to be taken on board. Data needs to be elicited before we can suggest the changes,” he said. The advocate cited the Centre’s flagship project – Swachh Bharat (Abhiyan) – and said “It is not about cleaning of garbage only.”
The bench, however, was not convinced. It retorted: “This affidavit is not worth the piece of paper it’s written on … You are not averse to electoral reforms but have not placed any necessary details. Is this the attitude of the government of India? What have you done till now?”
The Supreme Court accused the centre of trying to get away with vague statements. “You better file a detailed affidavit. This affidavit which you have filed is nothing but typed papers. Do not make vague statements. If the CBDT has taken some action, please disclose what action has been taken,” the bench said, giving liberty to the government to furnish the data in a sealed cover … Give reasons if you do not want the information to be made public.”