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In a significant observation, the Supreme Court recently said that it would like to examine the issue of lawmakers having shares in a company that was doing business with the government. The court felt that there was a need to find out whether they should even be allowed to have shares in such companies.

The apex court was hearing a petition from SN Shukla, founder of NGO Lok Prahari, wherein a direction was sought that the elected representatives should also disclose their sources of income besides divulging their assets at the time of filing nominations. Shukla also pleaded for a direction to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in this regard.

Shukla informed the court that although more than 100 parliamentarians had stated that they were social activists or housewives or involved in work that did not generate income, their assets had inexplicably…

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In a significant observation, the Supreme Court recently said that it would like to examine the issue of lawmakers having shares in a company that was doing business with the government. The court felt that there was a need to find out whether they should even be allowed to have shares in such companies.

The apex court was hearing a petition from SN Shukla, founder of NGO Lok Prahari, wherein a direction was sought that the elected representatives should also disclose their sources of income besides divulging their assets at the time of filing nominations. Shukla also pleaded for a direction to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in this regard.

Shukla informed the court that although more than 100 parliamentarians had stated that they were social activists or housewives or involved in work that did not generate income, their assets had inexplicably gone up by five to ten times.

The Supreme Court bench dealing with the petition brought up the issue of “conflict of interest” that arises as a result of parliamentarians and other legislators having shares in such companies. It recalled Section 7(D) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which disqualified a legislator if he/she had even one percent share in a government contract.

However, this section has been repealed and the existing section that deals with the disqualification for government contracts is Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act. The Section says: “A person shall be disqualified if, and for so long as, there subsists a contract entered into by him in the course of his trade or business with the appropriate Government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works undertaken by, that Government.”
The bench pointed out that a 2015 Supreme Court order had interpreted the law on disclosures to include within its ambit the understanding that candidates with government contracts are disqualified from standing for elections.

—By India Legal Bureau

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