New Delhi: Politicians, their spouses and dependents would now have to declare their sources of income, along with their assets, for contesting elections, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday. In a landmark judgement, the apex court passed a slew of measures to reform the electoral process, observing that the “purity” of electoral process was fundamental to the “survival of a healthy democracy”. It asked the Centre to put in place a mechanism to periodically collect data of the elected representatives, their spouses and dependents to examine whether there was any “disproportionate increase” in their assets and recommend appropriate action in such cases.
The top court also said that as per the mechanism, details regarding disproportionate hike in the assets of elected representatives, their spouses and dependents should be placed before the “appropriate legislature” to consider the eligibility of such lawmakers to continue as members of Parliament and assemblies.
A bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer said that non-disclosure of assets and the sources of income of the candidates and their “associates”, which include their spouses and dependents, would constitute a “corrupt practice” under the provision of the Representation of People (RP) Act, 1951.
It said that “undue accretion of assets” of elected representatives and their associates was a matter which should “alarm the citizens and voters of any truly democratic society”, as the electors have a fundamental right to know the relevant information about the candidates contesting polls.
“We direct that Rule 4A of the Rules (Conduct of Election Rules, 1961) and Form 26 appended to the Rules shall be suitably amended, requiring candidates and their associates (spouse and dependents) to declare their sources of income,” the bench said in a 56-page judgement. “We are also of the opinion the information regarding the sources of income of the legislators and their associates and candidates is relevant and legislators and candidates .