THE ELECTION Commission (EC) has decided to request the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to extend its scrutiny of poll affidavits to candidates contesting Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections. In June 2013, the CBDT had decided to examine affidavits, at the EC’s request, to verify whether the information on movable and immovable assets submitted by the candidates matches the income they have declared in the past. This scrutiny, however, is limited to those who have fought Lok Sabha and state elections since 2014.
According to sources, the decision to increase ambit of inspection to Rajya Sabha elections was taken at the Commission meeting on Tuesday after its expenditure division made a compelling case for the same. “Rajya Sabha MPs are usually high profile personalities. There’s no reason why their affidavits should not be looked at,” said an EC official who did not wish to be identified.
The CBDT, as per its current arrangement with EC, does not scrutinise all affidavits of candidates contesting Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. It acts in cases referred by the Commission, cases where the contesting candidate’s assets have grown phenomenally since the last election, cases of winning candidates, cases where the PAN number has not been disclosed but the candidate’s movable assets are more than Rs 5 crore and cases where the candidate’s new movable assets, compared to the last election, is more than Rs 2 crore.
Election affidavits are verified by the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) based on jurisdiction and their reports are shared directly with the EC. If the DGIT finds a discrepancy in an affidavit, then the concerned assessing officer, who has jurisdiction over the candidate, can take action under the IT Act.
As per the CBDT’s submission in the Supreme Court last year, it is investigating assets of seven incumbent Lok Sabha MPs and 257 MLAs, under its 2013 arrangement with EC. The submission was made was in response to a petition filed by an NGO.