The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to furnish the details a probe against lawmakers whose income shot up manifold within a short span of time.

A bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar – which expressed strong displeasure over the government not sharing with it details of a probe being conducted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) against politicians – said it must place a fresh affidavit before it by 10.30 am on September 12.

“The affidavit you have filed is not even worth the piece of paper it’s written on…When an affidavit was placed before this court, all information about any inquiry going on should be placed," the bench said.

“The information in CBDT affidavit is not complete. Is this the attitude of the Government of India? What have you done till now?” said the bench which is hearing a PIL filed by Lok Prahari, an NGO, on disclosure of sources of income by the candidates when they file nomination for elections.

While filing their nomination papers, candidates were disclosing their assets, assets of their spouse, children and other dependents, but they do not reveal the sources of income, SN Shukla of Lok Prahari contended. The petitioner wants inclusion of a column in the nomination form to list details of a candidate’s sources of income.

According to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) that works for electoral reforms, assets of four current Lok Sabha MPs have increased by 12 times while 22 others declared five-fold increase in their assets.

A newly-elected Rajya Sabha MP declared an asset growth of over 21 times since his last affidavit. Seven other newly elected Rajya Sabha MPs have declared two-fold asset increase, said ADR – an intervenor in the case.

The Centre’s counsel referred to CBDT affidavit to show that the government was serious about its intention to cleanse the electoral system. But as he tried to explain, the bench said, "You better file a detailed affidavit…Do not make vague statements. If the CBDT has taken some action, please disclose what action has been taken.”

"If you think certain information cannot be disclosed to public, you can file it in a sealed cover with reasons (as to) why you do not want it to be made public. But please disclose it to the court," Justice Chelameswar said.

On Wednesday, the Centre’s counsel asserted that the government was all for electoral reforms. “The Swachh Bharat (Abhiyan) is not only about cleaning of garbage…it’s also about free and fair election… cleaning of the electoral system,” the Centre’s counsel said.

But the bench was not impressed. "The government is saying they are not averse to some reform. Necessary information should be there on record (in the court),"

Earlier, in an affidavit filed in the top court the Centre had said it was ready to amend the Conduct of Election Rules to make it mandatory for a candidate contesting elections to declare his/her sources of income along with those of his/her spouse and dependents at the time of filing nomination papers. But, it had refused to accept the demand to make furnishing of false information a ground for disqualification, saying it was for the legislature to take a call on the issue.

The Election Commission has supported the NGO’s plea, saying disclosure of sources of income was necessary for “healthier democracy”. Under the current law, a candidate is required to disclose details of assets and liabilities for self, spouse and three dependents in Form 26 at the time of filing of nomination paper but not the source of income.

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