The Hindu
New Delhi

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a body spearheading the cause of reforms in the electoral system on Friday, urged all elected representatives to make Income Tax (IT) returns public as a step towards transparency in public life. In an appeal addressed to elected representatives across the country, ADR recalled that in 2010, it commenced work on a seminal idea that elected representatives should voluntarily declare their IT returns in public domain.

Mr. Assoldekar of ADR said that Right to Information (RTI) applications were filed by ADR in February, 2010, to various Income Tax authorities to seek information regarding IT returns of 22 MPs and 20 MLAs and later to the Appellate Authorities concerned, all of whom conveyed the opinion that the information was covered under Sections 8(1)(j), 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act and hence could not be provided.

RTIs were filed to corroborate the asset increases of these 42 MPs and MLAs with their asset declarations to Election Commission of India between two elections. The Central Information Commission (CIC) heard the case and then referred it to a full bench of Commissioners. The full bench hearing was held on April 16, 2013, and the judgment was reserved.

Subsequently, the members comprising the bench retired and it was decided by the CIC that the case would be heard by a new bench. The appointment of a new Chief Information Commissioner is pending till date, said Mr. Assoldekar.

Besides the legal RTI grievance route, ADR also appealed to all Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs to disclose their IT returns in the larger public interest. Some of these MPs sent the IT returns to ADR and insisted that it should make them public on our website, whereas others uploaded their returns on their own website.

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