Poll funding: EC refutes govt logic to deny changes

Rejecting the Law Ministry’s logic in turning down a request that would have made funding of political parties more transparent,the Election Commission (EC) has again written to the government

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Published: April 1, 2013 1:52:44 am

Rejecting the Law Ministry’s logic in turning down a request that would have made funding of political parties more transparent,the Election Commission (EC) has again written to the government.

While the government had said the EC suggestion was not in conformity with Section 29-C of the Representation of the People Act,1951,which says parties only have to submit a list of donations above Rs 20,000,the poll panel has now pointed out in a letter that the changes proposed by it in ‘Form 24A’ used by parties for declaration of donations would not require any amendment in the electoral law. The objective can be achieved only by amending the rules.

As first reported by The Indian Express,the Law Ministry wrote to the EC some time back turning down its recommendation to amend the format of reporting funds received by parties.

In October last year,the EC had proposed the amendment in Form 24A after accounts submitted by parties showed that named donors constituted a very small fraction,with thousands of crores being received from small,unnamed donors.

The EC suggested that contributions have audit reports attached and parties should specify the amount received in cheque and cash. It also recommended that anonymous donations be prohibited,and that all donors,including those who contribute less than Rs 20,000,provide PAN numbers.

“The changes in the format of reporting of monetary contributions through Form 24A can be done just by issuing a notification under the Conduct of Election Rules. The government is only trying to side-step the issue,” said an official.

Sources in the EC said the commission would approach the Law Commission,which has been asked by the Law Ministry to make suggestions about electoral reforms.

This,incidentally,is not the first time that the Law Ministry has taken on a proposal from the EC. Last year,after its senior ministers,including then Law Minister Salman Khurshid,drew flak from the poll body for violating the model code of conduct,the UPA government started working on a hush-hush plan to give statutory backing to the Code. However,the move was given a quiet burial after it was exposed in The Indian Express and the opposition questioned the motive of the government.

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