EC differs with government on poll funding

The Election Commission (EC) has differed with the government on the amendment of a law with regard to poll funding of political parties. The commission wants a notification on the rules with an aim to ensure free and fair elections.

The EC does not agree with the Law Ministry that modifications proposed by it in “Form 24A”, used by political parties for mandatory declaration of donations received by them, requires amendment in the electoral law. The EC feels it can be done through amendment of rules.

The Law Ministry had recently replied to the EC that its demand regarding removing the limit of Rs 20,000 and making it mandatory for parties to show on record all voluntary donations, irrespective of the sum, has been referred to the Law Commission as it will require an amendment in the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The EC, however, has said in its second letter to the Law Ministry that to implement the proposal the ministry will have to notify the rules and not carry out any amendment.

“The changes in the format of reporting of monetary contributions that are declared by political parties in ‘Form 24 A’ under section 29 of the Representation of the People Act can be done by a notification under the Conduct of Election Rules,” sources said.
Citing an example, the EC has said that under Section 29C of the Act, it “nowhere” mentions and asks for PAN, address and mode of contribution (cheque/draft/cash) to the political party but the existing “Form 24A” asks for all of these details.

“This is done under rule 85B of Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and these rules are there for the harmonious construction of the provisions of the Representation of the People Act and it allows authorities to prescribe certain conditions which is what the EC is asking for,” sources said.  In October, the EC had proposed to amend Form 24A, which makes it mandatory for political parties to file details every year of funds/donations they receive in excess of Rs 20,000.

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