BIG STEP: Supreme Court asks Centre detailed report on exponential rise in Politicians’s Wealth

After passing some commendable judgments in the recent past, the Supreme Court has finally turned its head towards the MPs and MLAs taking note of the unexpected surge in the assets of politicians during their tenures.

The Supreme Court has sought a detailed report from the Centre enquiring about the measures taken in this regard.

According to reports, as many as 289 legislators, including some well-known politicians, are currently under the judicial scanner for amassing unaccounted wealth.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer, hearing the matter, said that a thorough probe is needed to find the source of income and whether property amassed was through legal means.

The bench also took an indirect dig at the Centre for its reluctance in sharing information and directed the government to file a report within a week.

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), earlier stated that 77% of the total income declared by the BJP and Congress in FY16 came from ‘unknown sources’ and this compelled the apex court to ask for a report from the Government.

”BJP and the Congress have declared a total income of ₹832.42 crore in 2015-16, of which ₹647 crore (77%) is from unknown sources,” the ARD report said.

“Unknown sources” declared in the income-tax returns are those that account for donations below ₹20,000, and include ‘sale of coupons’, ‘relief fund’, ‘miscellaneous income’, ‘voluntary contributions’, ‘contribution from meetings/ morchas’ etc,” added the report.

While the BJP has declared income of ₹459.56 crore as “voluntary contributions” and ₹1.2 crore as “miscellaneous income”, the Congress has declared ₹16.80 crore from “voluntary contributions”, ₹1,2 crore as “miscellaneous” and ₹167 crore from “sale of coupons”.

The BJP has declared a total income of ₹570.86 crore during 2015-16, against the Congress’s ₹261.56 crore, according to ADR.

Recommendations Made By ADR

This issue has become a matter of concern and the ADR recommended some changes for keeping a check on any such false activities in the future.

The ADR vouched for greater transparency in election funding and thereby, urged the apex poll watchdog to impose rules that no part of Form 24A submitted by political parties providing details of donations above ₹20,000 should be left blank.

”Full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI. Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the US, and Japan.“- the report demanded.

“In none of these countries is it possible for 75% of the source of funds to be unknown,” it said in its report.

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