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Posted at: Sep 13, 2017, 1:28 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2017, 3:30 PM (IST)

Wealth disclosure by netas won’t do: SC

Why not law for speedy trial of criminal cases against MPs & MLAs, it suggests
Wealth disclosure by netas won’t do: SC
The Bench said the government should consider bringing in a law on setting up of new fast-track courts to expedite criminal case trials against parliamentarians and legislators. File photo

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 12

Highlighting the need to probe sudden rise in wealth of elected representatives, the Supreme Court today said disclosure of legitimate sources of income by legislators was not enough and something more required to be done.

“It is not enough that a legislator discloses his legitimate sources of income. It is important to inquire how the person got in that position to earn that kind of money,” a Bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said while hearing a PIL filed by Lok Prahari, an NGO, on disclosure of sources of income by candidates when filing nominations for elections.

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The Bench said the government should consider bringing in a law on setting up of new fast-track courts to expedite criminal case trials against parliamentarians and legislators. “With regard to MPs and MLAs, it falls under the domain of Parliament. It has the necessary competence to come up with a law. Make law and create the necessary infrastructure,” it said.

Referring to the 1993 Vohra Committee report and various reports on the nexus between politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and criminals, Justice Chelameswar expressed disappointment over lack of measures to check criminalisation of politics.

“What happened after that? Isn’t it high time we did something about it?” the Bench asked the attorney General while reserving its verdict on the PIL.

The petitioner NGO alleged substantial increase in assets of 26 Lok Sabha MPs, 11 RS MPs and 257 MLAs, as reflected in election affidavits. It sought a column in the nomination form to list details of a candidate’s sources of income.

Attorney General KK Venogopal told the Bench that 98 MLAs and seven Lok Sabha MPs, whose assets witnessed a multi-fold increase in a short span, were under investigation. He submitted a bulky sealed cover report containing names of politicians and the status of probe against them. After the probe, CBI might register disproportionate assets case against them, Venogopal told the Bench.

Pointing out that the probes were under the IT Act or anti-corruption laws, the Bench said there should be amechanism to deal with the issue under the Representation of People Act, 1951. as demanded by the petitioner.

Favouring a thorough probe, the Bench said: “Income under each head should be probed. The public needs an answer. People should get to know the state of affairs. It is not enough that a legislator discloses a legitimate source of income… Something more needs to be done.”

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