7 MPs, 98 MLAs under lens for rise in assests

'Outcome of probe can't be shared under RTI'

7 MPs, 98 MLAs under lens for rise in assests
The government has told the Supreme Court that seven Lok Sabha MPs and 98 MLAs whose election affidavits containing details of assets showed discrepancy with tax records are being investigated.

The government, however, said that the outcome of its verification exercise with the Income Tax (I-T) returns is shared with the Election Commission (EC) but it cannot be disclosed under the RTI Act.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said the verification reports in case of 26 Lok Sabha MPs and 215 MLAs and two Rajya Sabha MPs have already been received and would be filed in a sealed cover.

It said that the verification of election affidavits - self-disclosed documents – is carried out as per agreed parameters between the EC and the CBDT.

“If the verification by the investigation directorate leads to a conclusion that based on the comparison of the information contained in the affidavit with the return of the income, if any filed, and any further enquiries carried out, there is a case for assessment of income that escaped taxation, the matter is referred to the jurisdictional assessing officer...,” an affidavit filed on behalf of the CBDT stated.

The response was filed in the apex court on its query seeking an explanation from the government if it has initiated any action in cases of exponential jump in the properties of public representatives.

In this regard, NGO Lok Prahari has cited cases of 26 MPs, 257 MLAs and 11 Rajya Sabha MPs where there has been a substantial increase in their assets compared to their previous affidavits.

The government, however, maintained, “automatic comparison” between the assets disclosed by the candidates and their I-T returns “is not feasible and wherever necessary, enquiries are carried out, though time-consuming”.

It said the nature of the information contained in the election affidavit and I-T returns vary.

“The affidavits reveal the statement of assets and liabilities of candidates at market value on a date. The I-T returns contain the particulars of income and may not contain a statement of assets and liabilities in all cases,” it said.

“For example, it does not require the filing of balance sheets in cases of individuals not having professional or business income. Even where the balance sheet is filed, it usually is based on the cost of acquisition and not on the market value,” the government said. Of the list provided by the petitioner, the government said no discrepancy was found in case of 19 MPs, 117 MLAs and two Rajya Sabha MPs, while the verification report was pending in case of 42 MLAs and nine Rajya Sabha MPs.

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