Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Assets Disclosure by MLAs and Councillors

It has been close to 1.5 months since I wrote anything here. It was mostly because I was travelling quite a bit. And so here is what has been keeping me busy.

The RTI applications I filed regarding status of assets disclosures by MLAs and Corporation Councillors have yielded some interesting data. Initially an RTI filed with the TN assembly regarding status of assets disclosure of the MLAs of the present and previous assembly revealed that not a single MLA has done their annual assets disclosure. But the reply stated that the resolution to this effect was passed on 27th Aug 1969. The proceedings of that assembly session can be seen here. Page 12 of the pdf file shows that the then CM Mr.M.Karunanidhi moved the motion for assets disclosure. This was passed with retrospective effect from the year 1966-1967. It has also been mentioned that some MLAs and ministers did indeed file their returns after this. But today the practice is probably long forgotten. So I filed an RTI to find out exactly when this procedure died out. I have asked for details of disclosure of all the 42 years starting from 1967 till this year. This revealed the following data.

1. In the last 12 years not a single MLA has filed his/her returns.
2. Since 1973-74 not a single Chief Minister has submitted his returns. That is, for the last 35 years the CMs have not submitted their returns.

The complete details can be seen as an excel sheet here.

As for the councillors of Chennai Corporation, according to the Madras City Municipal Corporation (Disclosure of Assets) Rules, 1973 Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs) of the Chennai Corporation should disclose their assets details on March 31st of every year. Here again I have filed an RTI with the Chennai Corporation asking for compliance details. I had asked for details starting 2002. But I have received data only for the last 2 years - 2007 and 2008. It showed that in both the years out of 155 councillors only 25 have filed their returns. It is the same 25 councillors in both the years.

Both these were covered in the Hindu as can be seen here.

I have talked to a lawyer Mr.Krishnananth (Nity gave me the contact) regarding filing a case in the High Court asking it to issue a writ to the MLAs to do the disclosures or to the government to ensure disclosures. Let us see what happens.

No comments: