The Election Commission has told the Supreme Court that it must be made mandatory for the candidates to disclose their sources of income along with that of their spouse and dependents at the time of filing nomination to bring transparency in the election process.
The poll panel also sought amendment in the Representation of the People Act to make sure that a candidate is disqualified not only when he has an existing contract with the government but also when any member of his family has a similar financial agreement.
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In an affidavit before the apex court, the EC said it is necessary for “healthier democracy” that voters get to know the sources of income of aspiring candidates and family members. Under the current law, a candidate is required to disclose details of assets and liabilities for self, spouse and three dependents in Form 26 while filing nomination paper but not the source of income.
“The existing format of the poll affidavit does not give any information in respect of the sources of income of the candidate and his family members to enable the electors to form an informed choice as to whether the increase of the income of the candidate from the previous election is reasonable or not,” the commission said.
The submission came in response to a PIL filed by NGO Lok Prahri seeking the court’s direction to amend the Representation of the People Act to make it mandatory for candidates to disclose the sources of their income and that of their family members.
The NGO has also sought a direction to the Centre to bring an amendment in the law to disqualify a lawmaker if he has a share or interest in a firm that enters into a business contract with the government or a public company.
“The increasing role of money power in elections is too well known and is one of the maladies which sometimes reduces the process of election into a mere farce by placing some privileged candidates with financial resources in a distinctly advantageous position as compared to other candidates.
“The result of such an election cannot reflect the true choice of the people. The system also sometimes deprives qualified and able persons the prerogative to represent masses,” the panel said.
The commission also told the court that the law should be amended to provide punishment of a two-year jail term to candidates for filing a false affidavit, enhancing it from the present six-month period.
The panel also suggested that a provision should be made for disqualification of an elected representative in the event that his family member or any of the companies associated with him having business interest in government.