Disproportionate Assets Case

Disproportionate asset case

Disproportionate asset case


Disproportionate asset : What is it?

  • Disproportionate Asset is a term used to describe a situation where an individual’s net economic assets significantly exceed the assets he or she should possess after accounting for the assets that he or she previously held and all legal sources of income.
  • Disproportionate asset cases are investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Income Tax Department.
  • The concept is extensively used to initiate corruption investigations against public servants and elected politicians, and has been codified in several pieces of national- and state-level legislation, including the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Disproportionate asset : Legislation

  • As per the act “A public servant commits the offence of criminal misconduct if he is in possession of pecuniary resources or property, disproportionate to his known sources of income”.
  • Therefore, there are three requirements for a person to fall under suspicion under this Act.
    • they should own assets that seem to be out of sync with their legal sources of income
    • they should occupy a public office
    • they should be unable to account for how they came by these assets.
  • Disproportionate asset cases are used to initiate corruption probes on public servants and elected politicians by the CBI and the Income Tax Department.
  • The ‘disproportionate asset’ provision in the Prevention of Corruption Act is quite a stringent one, because the possession of such assets itself constitutes an offence of criminal misconduct.

Disproportionate asset : Importance

  • Rising corruption scandals in India puts pressure on the government exchequer. Corruption also completely deprives the poor of essential services, as they are unable to access any public service without paying a bribe.
    • Just for example: Illegal mining tacitly supported by the law makers in Karnataka cost the country ₹16,085 crore. And the ₹2,342-crore loss to the exchequer due to corruption in Commonwealth Games
  • Corruption is commonly perceived to be part and parcel of doing business in India as well. This has led to the country being ranked 79th in a list of 176 nations in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index of 2016.

Disproportionate asset : Recent issues

  • In 1996, Subramanian Swamy, then Janata Party chief, files a case against Jayalalithaa and others alleging that during her tenure as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996, she amassed properties worth Rs. 66.65 crore disproportionate to her known sources of income. As Jayalalithaa demises due to prolonged illness, the proceeding against her is abated and Apex court given the verdict saying, Jayalalithaa’s close aid Sasikala and her two relatives, V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi are convicted.
  • CBI is investigating the disproportionate asset case against Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.