The court made it mandatory for candidates contesting elections and their associates to declare their assets and source of income at the time of nomination.
The obligation of a candidate to disclose both his assets and the source of income is a part of the fundamental right of citizen to know, under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution. The court said enforcement of a citizen’s fundamental right needs no statutory sanction from the government or the Parliament.
“A candidate’s constitutional right to contest an election to the legislature should be subservient to the voter’s fundamental right to know the relevant information regarding the candidate,” the court held.
It held that “undue accretion of assets” is an independent ground for disqualifying an MP or an MLA. Amassing wealth is a “culpable offence” by itself and a law maker can be prosecuted even without charging him for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The court said the amassment of unaccounted wealth by lawmakers is the mark of a failing democracy. “If left unattended it would inevitably lead to the destruction of democracy and pave the way for the rule of mafia.”
The court said India as a “socialist republic” believes in the distribution of material resources and not in the concentration of wealth.
If the assets of a legislator increase without bearing any relationship to their known sources of income, the only logical inference that can be drawn is that there is some abuse. The court pointed out about how legislators use their position to secure loans from nationalised banks which turn into NPAs.