The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) was established in 1999 by a group of professors from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad. In 1999, Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by them with Delhi High Court asking for [or requesting] the disclosure of the criminal, financial and educational background of the candidates contesting elections. Based on this, the Supreme Court in 2002, and subsequently in 2003, made it mandatory for all candidates contesting elections to disclose criminal, financial and educational background prior to the polls by filing an affidavit with the Election Commission.
The first election watch was conducted by ADR in 2002 for Gujarat Assembly Elections whereby detailed analysis of the backgrounds of candidates contesting elections was provided to the electorate in order to help the electorate make an informed choice during polls. Since then ADR has conducted Election Watches for almost all state and parliament elections in collaboration with the National Election Watch. It conducts multiple projects aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in the political and electoral system of the country.