Association for Democratic Reforms

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Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)
Abbreviation ADR
Motto "No office in this land is more important than that of being a citizen" -Felix Franfurter
Formation 1999; 15 years ago (1999)
Type NGO
Purpose Bringing Democratic Reforms in India through Political and Electoral advocacy
Headquarters Kiwanis Centre,
4th Floor, B-35,
Qutub Institutional Area,
New Delhi-110016
Region served India
Membership Open for all[1]
Key people Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, Prof Trilochan Sastry, Ajit Ranade
Staff 30-40
Volunteers 1200 NGOs[2]

The Association for Democratic Reforms (abbreviated ADR) is an Indian civil society group vying for transparency in Indian politics. It attempts to expand the laws for disclosure from electoral candidates and also to analyse and disseminate the information effectively. It also tries to formulate processes for reforming the political process to enable greater accountability. [3] It was formed in 1999 by a group of IIM Ahmedabad professors and now works with a large network of 1200 NGOs and others across the country.[4]

About ADR[edit]

ADR was established in 1999 by a group of professors from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad.[5] In August 1999, the group filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Delhi High Court seeking directions to the Election Commission of India for greater disclosure from candidates. They pointed to recommendations of the Law Commission of India[6] and the Vohra Report which had not been implemented, and argued that all candidates must be required declare information on any criminal convictions or cases pending against them, their assets, and their educational status.[7]

The High Court accepted their plea. However, the Government of India challenged the judgement in the Supreme Court, which altered the ruling slightly, keeping the main points intact.[8]

Since 2003, the process has been implemented, leading to greater awareness of criminal political elements (who are very widespread in India, see for example, Criminalisation in U.P. politics). The process has also resulted in a spotlight on sudden increases in wealth, and prosecution of particularly blatant cases of disproportionate assets.[7]

Founders and Present Head of ADR[edit]

ADR was co-founded by Prof Trilochan Sastry, Prof Jagdeep Chhokar and Ajit Ranade among the 13 founders and trustees in 1999.[9] Maj Gen (Retd) Anil Verma is currently the Head of ADR.[10]


The objective of ADR is to improve governance and strengthen democracy by continuous work in the area of Electoral and Political Reforms.[3][11] It aims at bringing transparency and accountability in Indian politics and reducing the influence of money and muscle power in elections. The ambit and scope of work in this field is enormous, hence, ADR has chosen to concentrate its efforts in the following areas pertaining to the political system of the country:

  • Corruption and Criminalization in the Political Process
  • Empowerment of the electorate through greater dissemination of information relating to the candidates and the parties, for a better and informed choice
  • Need for greater accountability of Indian Political Parties
  • Need for inner-party democracy and transparency in party-functioning

Function & Research Areas[edit]

National Election Watch[12] National Election Watch, one of the wings of ADR, releases comprehensive background reports based on Criminal, Financial, Educational and Income Tax details of Candidates and Winners (MPs, MLAs and Ministers) after every Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

Political Party Watch[13] Political Party Watch analyses donations above Rs 20,000 received by Political Parties (National & Regional) and the Income Tax Returns filed by them and put them in the public domain. This program also analyses the details of election expenditure declared by the national and regional parties after every Assembly and General election. All the statements submitted by the political parties with regard to their expenses have been made digitally available in the website, and the detailed analysis of the finances of political parties are available on

RTI Disclosures & PILs[14] ADR also resort to legal advocacy for Political and Electoral Reforms. It files numerous complaints and PILs with Central Information Commission, Supreme Court/ High Court as well as other Central and State agencies.


Candidates' Declaration of Criminal cases and wealth[edit]

Important Judgement & Decisions in favor of ADR[edit]

  • September 2003: A Bill on Electoral Expenses was passed in September 2003. The EC has taken it one-step forward and asked candidates to file a statement of expenses in every three days during the campaign.[15]
  • April 2008: ADR obtained a landmark ruling from the CIC saying that Income Tax Returns of Political Parties would now be available in the public domain along with the assessment orders.[15]
  • June 2011: After a two year long RTI battle, crucial information on the 'Registers of Members' Interest' was finally mandated by CIC to be available in the public domain in June 2011.[15]
  • June 2013: The CIC delivered a landmark judgment that brought 6 National Parties under the ambit of the RTI Act.[15]
  • July 2013: Supreme Court delivers a Judgment on a Petition filed by Lily Thomas and Lok Prahari NGO, (ADR Intervened) setting aside clause 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, and therefore barring sitting MPs and MLAs from holding office on being Convicted in a Court of Law.[15]

Dissemination of information[edit]

ADR also analyses and publishes the disclosures and other data on candidates and makes it available to citizens via the internet, SMSs and telephone.[4]

In April 2008, based on ADR's petition, the Central Information Commission ruled that Income Tax Returns (along with the assessment orders) of Political Parties be made available in the public domain.[16] In June 2011, in another petition from ADR, the Central Information Commission ordered that information on the Registers of Members' Interest be made public.[17]


Year Name of Award or Honour Awarding Organisation Reference
April 2014 NDTV Indian of the Year- India's Future NDTV [15]
March 2014 Innovation for India Awards 2014 Marico Innovation Foundation [15]
December 2013 CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Award in Public Service Category CNN-IBN [15]
January 2013 Social Impact Award in Advocacy and Empowerment The Times of India [15]
August 2012 Mobile Innovations for Good Governance Award mBillionth Award South Asia [15]
December 2011 ICT led Innovation for the Election Watch software of ADR and Webrosoft NASSCOM [15]

ADR in News[edit]

Various Press Releases by ADR

Articles in various media covering ADR

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Volunteer Registration". ADR. Archived from the original on 29 Oct 10. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b Rahul Anand (22 February 2011). "ADR: Ushering Democratic and Electoral Reforms". Better India news. Retrieved 10 Mar 2011. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "170th report on the "Reform of the Electoral Laws."". Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Our Achievements". ADR. Archived from the original on 29 June 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Justice M.B. Shah (2 May 2002). "Union of India Vs. Association for Democratic Reforms & Another". Supreme Court of India Judgement on Civil Appeal No. 7178 of 2001. 
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  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k
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