From Sonia to Sushma, many fail to declare real value of their immovable property

Assets disclosureAcross party lines: Half-truths

In March 2003, when the Supreme Court ordered that candidates contesting elections to Parliament or state legislatures should disclose their assets and liabilities, it had said MPs and legislature members are public servants and the "repositories of public trust".

Public awareness of the financial position of the candidate, it had said, will go a long way in forming an opinion whether the candidate, after election to the office had amassed wealth, and that disclosure will serve as a check against misuse of power for making quick money – "a malady which nobody can deny, has been pervading the political spectrum of our democratic nation".

Cut to 2013: A decade after the landmark ruling, The Indian Express has found that the judgment is being followed in letter and spirit more as an exception by many candidates.

An analysis of the declarations of presidents of all six national parties – Congress, BJP, CPI, CPM, BSP and NCP – their leaders in both houses of Parliament, 48 chiefs of state parties and chief ministers of five states presently holding Assembly elections shows that most have not declared their real assets or the real value of the assets they have made public.

If some have hugely undervalued the assets, others do not mention valuation reports. Market values declared are less than even the circle rates of properties. And for some, the value of their assets does not budge even after five years as they declare their worth to be the same from one poll to the next.

The following are some leading examples:

SONIA GANDHI: Her declarations in 2004 and 2009 mention the value of her 3 bighas of land in Dera Mandi (Mehrauli, Delhi) and 12 bighas 15 biswa land in Sultanpur village in the same area as Rs 2.19 lakh. Sonia said the value is "as per wealth return". But far from being the "current market value" as mandated by the EC, this does not even come close to the declared value of land in the same area by Kanwar Singh Tanwar, a BSP candidate in the 2008 Delhi Assembly election. Tanwar has declared his 12 bighas 5 biswa land in Dera to be worth Rs 18.37 crore.

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