India, a country with extensive diversity, is the largest country to follow the democratic form of governance. Being the largest country to follow this form of governance, the country is bound to have its own set of ambiguities and dilemmas, too. One such ambiguity came up when the people of this diversified nation felt that the Representation of People’s Act had certain loopholes in an article included in this act.
The Representation of People’s Act is an act which was enacted by the Indian provincial Parliament prior to the first general elections in 1951. The People’s Representation Act provides for the conduct of elections in India, and was enacted to keep a check on unwanted practices that happen during the time of Indian elections.
As per clause 75A of this act, elected candidates of the two Houses of Parliament have to declare their assets and liabilities within 90 days of them taking their seats. What remains unresolved here though, is the fact that no such provision exists for the time when their term ends. This is a precarious ladder, which is bound to fall, if not set up in the right manner.
The misuse of power and position by very many politicians to make personal monetary gains is not hidden from the public. Huge amounts of money paid by taxpayers for the development of this country, as a result, are going into the pockets of corrupt individuals.
It was noticed and recorded that there were several politicians whose assets had taken a notable jump since the time they had taken charge of their offices. There are in fact statistics, which were stated by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) previously on the demanded enquiry by the Supreme Court. The CBDT presented that there had been a substantial hike in the assets of 7 Lok Sabha MPs and 98 MLAs and that several ‘discrepancies’ were found.
To avoid such discrepancies and establish a rational system where accountability and transparency are prioritised, I, as a member of Parliament from Arunachal East, introduced an amendment bill in September 2017 which proposes that Members of Parliament declare their assets within 90 days of the end of their tenure. This provision is to be inserted as subsection 75B(1) in the Representation of People’s Act, 1951.
The reason I placed this bill was to bring consciousness to our colleagues that after elections, win or lose, one should not be harassed for his assets and property. If there is a justified increase in one’s property or assets the question of victimisation would not be there. I have been twice MLA including Minister and Deputy Speaker also twice MP and Union Minister but my assets can be verified practically through the net. Hence this bill is being placed so that no ill will or misunderstanding prevails if in power or not. We must come above politics and take it sportingly.
The proposal hasn’t faced much flak, but neither has it received much support. Certain media houses circulated reports explaining the pros and cons of this amendment bill, but it did not receive much attention and the whole agenda died before it could even surface properly. Most people still remain ignorant about what the amendment proposes. And in no democracy should people be allowed to remain ignorant about their own laws and surroundings. Therefore, it is important for the public to know why this amendment needs to be passed and the effect it will have on India’s political environment.
The reasons to support this amendment are many. If passed, it will keep a check on corrupt practices and will castigate politicians with assets attained from unidentified and illegitimate sources. It will also help prevent victimisation of politicians with assets from justified sources. It will further help people to hold their leaders accountable. It also adds to the transparency in the functioning of the government.
It is definitely a possible end to the misuse of power and position for monetary gains from the money that was to be invested for the country’s development.
It is none other than the people of India who form the government. Hence, it is the utmost right of the people to be informed of the choices they have made or will make in the near future. It is necessary that the people of this nation know their leaders and can hold them accountable.
With inputs from Abhishek Ranjan, Sharvi Saxena and Pragya Tyagi.