NGO Lok Prahari had sought disclosure of the sources of income by the candidates contesting elections when they file nomination for polls, and had pointed to alleged increase in assets of 26 Lok Sabha and 11 Rajya Sabha MPs and 257 MLAs.
Four days after the Supreme Court pulled up the Centre and directed furnishing of details of action initiated against lawmakers, some of whose assets have jumped by over “500 per cent” between elections, the Central Board of Direct Taxes filed an affidavit saying there has been a substantial hike in the assets of seven Lok Sabha MPs and 98 MLAs across the country and "discrepancies" have been found.
In an affidavit the CBDT said they have probed the allegations by NGO Lok Prahari which has sought disclosure of the sources of income by the candidates contesting elections when they file nomination for polls, regarding alleged increase in assets of 26 Lok Sabha and 11 Rajya Sabha MPs and 257 MLAs.
Preliminary assessment of another 42 MLAs is underway, the affidavit said.
“Is this the attitude of the Government of India? What have you done till now?” Justice J Chelameswar-led bench had asked the Centre during the earlier hearing as it said “it could be done through electoral reforms”.
The court said a representation was made to the chairman of the central board of direct taxes way back in June 2015 by an NGO seeking probe against such politicians but the Centre's response had been vague and it did not categorically state the outcome of any investigation or whether one was conducted at all.
NAMES IN SEALED COVER
"As per an arrangement between CBDT and Election Commission of India (ECI), verification of affidavits of the the candidates is undertaken as per provisions of Income Tax Act, 1961," it said.
"Given that revenue augmentation is the primary concern of the IT department and since increasingly the department is Graduating towards non-intrusive methods, the verification of election affidavits is carried out in respect of specific category of such cases as per agreed parameter between ECI and CBDT," the affidavit said.
“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 had said earlier
The bench noted the government was saying it was not averse to reform and added necessary information should be there on record. “… what is the action taken. If you think some information should not be made public… give us that in a sealed cover and tell us why you do not want to make it public.’’