State Information Commissioner S. Muthuraj has recommended to the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission to make available in public domain the contribution of elected representatives for nation building since Independence.
He was passing orders in a petition filed under the Right to Information Act, 2005, seeking voluminous data on the payment of property tax in the jurisdiction of the Greater Chennai Corporation. He said when petitioners, who invoked the Act for information in larger public interest and to strengthen the democracy, were asked whether they cast their vote in the last elections, some replied in the negative saying politicians were flawed and untrustworthy.
Mr. Muthuraj said the general opinion formed over the years against the genuineness of politicians had resulted in a steep decline in the polling percentage, which does not augur well in a parliamentary democratic form of government. He said many people were of the opinion that politicians were very rich in terms of wealth and immoral in character. As observed in other professions, mistakes committed by one member could not be generalised and made applicable to every other member of the profession as such a generalisation would impact other genuine employees.
According to him, only a negligible number of politicians were super rich while a substantial number of other politicians lived an ordinary life.
Mr. Muthuraj said the salary and pension structure of MLA/MPs, compared to that of the judges of Supreme Court/High Court was very less. The stigmatised illusion in the minds of people that politicians were getting various benefits and numerous other privileges was contrary to truth, he said. Such an impression may not yield any positive outcome but could lead in the gradual fall of democracy.
The consistent murmuring and ill-speaking of politicians among people had caused a rift in electoral process to the extent that the percentage of votes polled in the Tamil Nadu local body elections this year had a dramatic decline.
In the Chennai Corporation, polling percentage was only 43% in the urban bodies elections.
History had it that in countries with a sharp decline in percentage of votes polled, democracy suffered a setback and other forms of ruling gained entry.
Invoking powers vested under Section 25 of the Act, Mr. Muthuraj recommended to the ECI and State Election Commission to make available information on the real economic status of present and former elected representatives. If the fictitious impression that all politicians were malicious and rich remained, it would prevent the younger generation from joining politics, Mr. Muthuraj said.