The candidates in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls will have to declare the income tax returns of past five years and details of foreign assets held by them, as per the Conduct of Election(Amendment) Rules 2019 notified by the Ministry of Law and Justice yesterday.
The Rules are notified in exercise of powers under Section 169 read with 33 of the Representation of People Act 1951. The amendment notified yesterday has changed the format of Form 26, in which the candidate has to file affidavit furnishing information on assets, liabilities, educational qualification and criminal antecedents, if any.
Previously, a candidate had to only declare the last IT return (for self, spouse and dependents) in Form 26. But as per the amended Form 26, five years’ returns are to be furnished, along with details of offshore assets.
Offshore assets, as per Tuesday’s notification, means “details of all deposits or investments in foreign banks and any other body or institution abroad and details of all assets and liabilities in foreign countries”.
The disclosure will not be limited to the candidate, but also cover the spouse, members of the Hindu Undivided Family (if the candidate is a ‘karta’ or coparcener) and dependents.
Last September, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had issued a slew of directions regarding disclosure of criminal antecedents of a candidate in the affidavit. The Court directed that the details of criminal cases, if any, pending against the candidate should be stated in bold letters in the affidavit. Also, the candidate as well as the concerned political party shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give wide publicity in the electronic media.