- Apprentice Lawyer
A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the constitution of a court-monitored Special Investigation Team “to investigate the irregularities” associated with the immovable property of incumbent Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
The Petition has been preferred by a former journalist, Saket Gokhale, invoking the fundamental right of a voter/citizen to know the relevant information with respect to candidates aspiring to hold public offices, under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
The alleged irregularities arise out of a policy for allotment of land by the Gujarat government to public servants including MPs, MLAs, etc, on nominal price without auction. This allotted land could not be transferred or gifted without the permission of the District Collector.
While considering the legality of the policy, the Gujarat High Court had stayed further allotment or transfer of the plots under the policy without its permission. It had also recorded that no fresh allotments were made after the year 2000 and as a matter of fact, the entire policy for such allotment was being re-examined.
It is the petitioner’s stance that the asset disclosure affidavits filed by Modi to the Election Commission, showed apparent irregularities with respect to one such plot of land allotted to him by the Gujarat government.
A plot of land in Gandhi Nagar was allotted to Modi by the Gujarat Government for a sum of Rs 1,30,448. The same was reflected in Modi’s Gujarat Assembly Elections Affidavit, filed in 2007. However, the same was not disclosed in affidavits filed in 2012 and in 2014 for the 16th Lok Sabha Election.
Instead, Modi declared 1/4th ownership of another plot of land in the same area.
It is further stated that even in his affidavits filed in 2016 and 2017, the allotted land was missing from the list of assets disclosed by Modi in his affidavits. Nonetheless, 1/4th ownership over the second plot of land was once again claimed.
The petitioner claims that the land records “still clearly mention” that the allotted land was still Modi’s and there existed no entry in the land record qua the second plot of land.
Even the Election Commission failed to take note of the said evidence and irregularity in the Election affidavits filed by Narendra Modi, the petition states.
Being a high executive officer, Modi has a duty to set the highest standards of fairness, probity and transparency in life., the petitioner submits.
However, by hiding details of his assets and by misrepresentation, Modi is not only guilty of filing false affidavit but has also created a prima facie doubt about the veracity of information about him, especially his assets, it is asserted.
Further relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in Lok Prahari vs UOI & Ors (2018), the Petition adds,
“..the importance of citizens being the ultimate repository of sovereignty in a democracy that he must have access to all information that enables critical audit of the performance of the state and their incumbent or aspiring public officials…the non-disclosure if assets and sources of income of the candidates and their associates would constitute a corrupt practice falling under heading “under influence” as defined as defined under Sectio 123(2) of the 1951 RP Act.”
It is, therefore, contended that Modi has violated the sacrosanct right of voters/citizens of making an informed choice of the candidate to represent the constituency in the legislature on the basis of true and current information.
The Petitioner hence seeks constitution of an SIT under the aegis of a retired Chief Justice of India to investigate and enquire into the immovable assets belonging to Narendra Modi, particularly the land allotted to him by the Gujarat Government.