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Political parties must be accountable for their funding

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  • karmayog - tanya
    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/show-us-the-money/1099015/0 Show us the money Jagdeep S. Chhokar : Mon Apr 08 2013, 00:50 hrs Political parties must be made
    Message 1 of 6 , Apr 8, 2013
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      Show us the money

      Jagdeep S. Chhokar : Mon Apr 08 2013, 00:50 hrs
       
       
      Political parties must be made to account for the bulk of their funding

      Three actions of the government in the last couple of months seem to give a lie to its intentions on political and electoral funding. Let's start with the latest action. On March 26, it was reported that the government had blocked the Election Commission's move to make party funding more transparent.

      Article 324 of the Constitution gives plenary powers to the EC for the superintendence and direction control of the conduct of all elections to Parliament and the state legislatures. The overall scheme is laid down in the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951. The practicalities of how elections are to be conducted are laid down in the Conduct of Election (CoE) Rules, 1961.

      The RP Act was amended on September 11, 2003. Section 29B, which was inserted, permitted a political party to receive "contributions voluntarily offered to it by any person or company other than a government company". Section 29C, also added then, required every political party to submit to the EC a statement of all donations above Rs 20,000 "in such form as may be prescribed". The law ministry prescribed Form 24A for such reports. The income tax law was amended on April 1, 1979, by adding section 13A, whichgranted political parties 100 per cent exemption from income tax on the donations received by them.

      Recently, the total income of political parties as revealed by their income tax returns was compared with the donations received, as reported in Form 24A, both accessed under the RTI Act by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). It revealed that the statement of donations reported in Form 24A accounted for only about 20 per cent of the total income of political parties. The source of 80 per cent of their income was unknown. Several parties claim that this share comes through donations of less than Rs 20,000, often in cash or through what is called "sale of coupons", of which no record is kept.

      Last year, the EC wrote to the law ministry, asking it to make Form 24A more transparent about contributions. The law ministry responded by saying "no compelling reasons" had been mentioned to necessitate such amendments. The EC then reminded the law ministry that "the objective of filing contribution reports is to bring transparency in the funds received". It pointed out that the proposed modifications would make political funding more comprehensible to citizens. One of the suggested modifications was that the total funds received by political parties be declared, not just those received in tranches of more than Rs.20,000. The law ministry replied that the modifications were not in keeping with section 29C of the RP Act. It seems obvious that the law ministry is taking a narrow, legalistic view and is overlooking the broader purpose of the legislation. It would still be legalistic, but more progressive, if it initiated amending Section 29C. But the law ministry, and the government, do not appear to see anything wrong in 80 per cent of the income of political parties being shrouded in mystery, even if that spreads scepticism about the way political parties function.

      The second action happened on March 13, 2013, when the Centre submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court, saying that section 10A of the RP Act, 1951, gives the EC the power to disqualify a person only if she does not file an account of election expenses. She could not be disqualified for any other reason, "including the correctness or otherwise of such accounts."The government's contention seems to be that the EC can only accept the account submitted by a candidate. It has no authority to scrutinise it and take action.

      This goes against the SC judgment in the case of R. Shivarama Gowde vs P.M. Chandrashekar, where it had rejected this very contention: if "an account is found to be incorrect or untrue by the EC after enquiry under Rule 89, it could be held that the candidate had failed to lodge his account within the meaning of Section 10(A) and the EC may disqualify the said person." The legalistic law ministry does not seem to be aware of the SC's pronouncements.

      The third event happened on January 23, 2013, when the Justice Verma Committee released its report. It stated that electoral reforms were necessary "to the achievement of gender justice and the prevention of sexual offences against women". It then made proposals in this regard, including stripping the legislature of persons who have criminal cases pending against them, proper scrutiny of affidavits, transparency of electoral and political funding. Soon after the report was made public, the Union law minister said the report would be referred to the Law Commission. If the law ministry can forget the Supreme Court ruling, how can the law minister be blamed for not knowing that a Law Commission report on electoral reforms has been lying with his ministry since 1999?

      The tussle continues, with the EC and citizens pushing for greater transparency. At the other end, the government and political parties seem to be trying to stonewall change by using a time-tested principle: "delay is the deadliest form of denial."

      The writer is former professor, dean, and director-in-charge at IIM, Ahmedabad. Views are personal

      express@...

       
    • G.C. Mathur
      Well written. There is something else to be taken note of besides the political parties being unaccountable. The funds allocated from the Central budgets to
      Message 2 of 6 , Apr 8, 2013
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        Well written. There is something else to be taken note of besides the political parties being unaccountable.

        The funds allocated from the Central budgets to the States for achieving specific goals or objectives are loudly diverted to areas not intended to be spent on. The Central Government should seek accountability and transparency on the funds so allocated to the States in the same way as Utilisation Certificates from Charatered Accountants are demands from non governmental agencies for implementation of projects on government's behalf. For projects on the lists of State, the States have got to manage within their own revenue receiots.

        Comments invited.

         
        G C Mathur
        Convenor-Trustee Treasurer, Binty
        ( A Voluntary Consumer Organisation)
        Regd. Office: H No 9-B/9, 1st Floor
        Kishangarh, Vasant Kunj Post Office,
        New Delhi: 110070
        Tel: +91 11 26136232, 26132420
        Email: gcmbinty@...

        Karmayog Digest No.6526 dated 08.04.2013:
        8
        Political parties must be accountable for their funding
        Mon Apr 8, 2013 1:24 am (PDT) . Posted by:
        "karmayog - tanya" http://www.indianex press.com/ news/show- us-the-money/ 1099015/0

        Show us the money
        Jagdeep S. Chhokar : Mon Apr 08 2013, 00:50 hrs

        Political parties must be made to account for the bulk of their funding
        Three actions of the government in the last couple of months seem to
        give a lie to its intentions on political and electoral funding. Let's
        start with the latest action. On March 26, it was reported that the
        government had blocked the Election Commission&# 39;s move to make
        party funding more transparent.

        Article 324 of the Constitution gives plenary powers to the EC for the
        superintendence and direction control of the conduct of all elections to
        Parliament and the state legislatures. The overall scheme is laid down
        in the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951. The practicalities
        of how elections are to be conducted are laid down in the Conduct of
        Election (CoE) Rules, 1961.

        The RP Act was amended on September 11, 2003. Section 29B, which was
        inserted, permitted a political party to receive "contributions
        voluntarily offered to it by any person or company other than a
        government company" . Section 29C, also added then, required every
        political party to submit to the EC a statement of all donations above
        Rs 20,000 "in such form as may be prescribed" . The law ministry
        prescribed Form 24A for such reports. The income tax law was amended on
        April 1, 1979, by adding section 13A, whichgranted political parties 100
        per cent exemption from income tax on the donations received by them.

        Recently, the total income of political parties as revealed by their
        income tax returns was compared with the donations received, as reported
        in Form 24A, both accessed under the RTI Act by the Association for
        Democratic Reforms (ADR). It revealed that the statement of donations
        reported in Form 24A accounted for only about 20 per cent of the total
        income of political parties. The source of 80 per cent of their income
        was unknown. Several parties claim that this share comes through
        donations of less than Rs 20,000, often in cash or through what is
        called "sale of coupons" , of which no record is kept.

        Last year, the EC wrote to the law ministry, asking it to make Form 24A
        more transparent about contributions. The law ministry responded by
        saying "no compelling reasons" had been mentioned to necessitate such
        amendments. The EC then reminded the law ministry that "the objective of
        filing contribution reports is to bring transparency in the funds
        received" . It pointed out that the proposed modifications would make
        political funding more comprehensible to citizens. One of the suggested
        modifications was that the total funds received by political parties be
        declared, not just those received in tranches of more than Rs.20,000.
        The law ministry replied that the modifications were not in keeping with
        section 29C of the RP Act. It seems obvious that the law ministry is
        taking a narrow, legalistic view and is overlooking the broader purpose
        of the legislation. It would still be legalistic, but more progressive,
        if it initiated amending Section 29C. But the law ministry, and the
        government, do not appear to see anything wrong in 80 per cent of the
        income of political parties being shrouded in mystery, even if that
        spreads scepticism about the way political parties function.

        The second action happened on March 13, 2013, when the Centre submitted
        an affidavit to the Supreme Court, saying that section 10A of the RP
        Act, 1951, gives the EC the power to disqualify a person only if she
        does not file an account of election expenses. She could not be
        disqualified for any other reason, "including the correctness or
        otherwise of such accounts." The government&# 39;s contention seems
        to be that the EC can only accept the account submitted by a candidate.
        It has no authority to scrutinise it and take action.

        This goes against the SC judgment in the case of R. Shivarama Gowde vs
        P.M. Chandrashekar, where it had rejected this very contention: if "an
        account is found to be incorrect or untrue by the EC after enquiry under
        Rule 89, it could be held that the candidate had failed to lodge his
        account within the meaning of Section 10(A) and the EC may disqualify
        the said person." The legalistic law ministry does not seem to be aware
        of the SC's pronouncements.

        The third event happened on January 23, 2013, when the Justice Verma
        Committee released its report. It stated that electoral reforms were
        necessary "to the achievement of gender justice and the prevention of
        sexual offences against women". It then made proposals in this regard,
        including stripping the legislature of persons who have criminal cases
        pending against them, proper scrutiny of affidavits, transparency of
        electoral and political funding. Soon after the report was made public,
        the Union law minister said the report would be referred to the Law
        Commission. If the law ministry can forget the Supreme Court ruling, how
        can the law minister be blamed for not knowing that a Law Commission
        report on electoral reforms has been lying with his ministry since 1999?

        The tussle continues, with the EC and citizens pushing for greater
        transparency. At the other end, the government and political parties
        seem to be trying to stonewall change by using a time-tested principle:
        "delay is the deadliest form of denial."

        The writer is former professor, dean, and director-in- charge at IIM, Ahmedabad. Views are personal

        express@expressindi a.com
      • prv380
        Birds of the same feather flock together. It would be impossible to make them declare their funds or get details of spending...PRV...
        Message 3 of 6 , Apr 9, 2013
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          Birds of the same feather flock together. It would be impossible to make them declare their funds or get details of spending...PRV...
        • j_nc2000
          Dear sir In my view, utilisation certifate should be taken from the political parties.Most probaly, on paper,such provision exists Dr N C Jain 11-4-13
          Message 4 of 6 , Apr 11, 2013
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            Dear sir
            In my view, utilisation certifate should be taken from the political parties.Most probaly, on paper,such provision exists
            Dr N C Jain
            11-4-13
          • iyer_ga
            Political parties, Government offices, etc are very effective in generating bills and challans without deliveries. Issuing false certificates or manipulating
            Message 5 of 6 , Apr 15, 2013
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              Political parties, Government offices, etc are very effective in generating bills and challans without deliveries. Issuing false certificates or manipulating accounts to show the utility of funds are the main task for which some people get paid. If politicians are made accountable, by law, to the people of his or her constituency most of the work is done, the rest will be implied! Though they claim to be peoples servants, so are they duty bound by oath, ground reality is that they make people their servants while their assets grow disproportionate the known sources of income!

              --- In karmayog@yahoogroups.com, "j_nc2000" <j_nc2000@...> wrote:
              >
              > Dear sir
              > In my view, utilisation certifate should be taken from the political parties.Most probaly, on paper,such provision exists
              > Dr N C Jain
              > 11-4-13
              >
            • prasad subramaniam
              Can anyone tell me which national political party in India have and are providing proper accounts of their funding to the respective government departments
              Message 6 of 6 , Apr 17, 2013
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                Can anyone tell me which national political party in India have and are providing proper accounts of their funding to the respective government departments including the Election Commission... Kindly do some research before sending your replies. All your replies would be welcome coz this would support all of us in getting this to the public domain...

                Thank you.

                Prasad Subramaniam
                07666912020
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