In a bid to make easier verification of the details submitted by candidates contesting elections, the government has issued a notification making it mandatory for nominees to declare their income tax returns of the last five years, details of foreign assets and Permanent Account Number (PAN). According to a report in The Indian Express, besides the candidate, spouse, members of the Hindu Undivided Family and dependents are also required to declare all the details at the time of filing nomination.
Earlier, a candidate contesting election had to only disclose the last I-T return for self, spouse and dependents in Form 26.
As per the Election Commission rule, a candidate is required to file an affidavit which carries details about his/her assets, liabilities, educational qualification and criminal antecedents. There was no column asking them to share the details of foreign assets.
The notification in this regard was issued by the Law Ministry on Tuesday as per the recommendation made by Election Commission. It said that the changes have introduced in Form 26 and it will be effective for all upcoming elections including the Lok Sabha polls.
The amended form also asks candidates to share PAN without fail. It says that in case of no PAN, candidates must clearly say No PAN allotted .
As per the notification, offshore assets means details of all deposits or investments in foreign banks. Also, details of any other body or institution abroad and details of all assets and liabilities in foreign countries must be shared.
The changes were made to the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. The IE report said that Election Commission had written to the Law Ministry on February 13 seeking amendments to Form 26.
The EC said that changes in the Form 26 would make the verification process easier for the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). The CBDT is responsible for scrutinising affidavits submitted by the candidates It verified whether the information provided by a candidate on movable and immovable assets matches the income they have declared in the past.
The CBDT doesn’t scrutinises all poll affidavits. It only acts in cases referred by the Election Commission.