EC seeks strong law to curb black money in polls

EC seeks strong law to curb black money in polls

EC seeks strong law to curb black money in polls

The Election Commission (EC) on Monday sought “a strong law” to curb use of “black money” in polls, even as the national consultation on electoral funding saw a broad consensus emerging on setting up a “Trust” to channel corporate donations to political parties.

Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma said that India needed “a strong law” to control political financing as black money, followed by muscle power, created imbalances in electoral processes.

“Black money impinges on democracy. Black money and muscle power disturb level-playing field. Though money cannot guarantee votes, the one who can spend more has an upper hand,” he said, while inaugurating the consultation on Political Finance and Law Commission Recommendations. “There was a broad consensus that there should be no corporate funding of political parties and instead a ‘National Electoral Trust’ under the control of the EC should be set up for corporate donations,” Brahma added.

The EC claimed that broad consensus emerged on controlling flow of “big money” in electioneering, checking vote buying through legal measures, ensuring greater transparency on funding of political parties, more power to the commission to make rules, monitoring third party campaigners and setting up fast-track courts to try electoral offences.

The EC held the consultation in the wake of the 255th Report of the Law Commission, which was presented on March 12, making various recommendations for electoral reforms in the country.

“We will now write to the Law Ministry saying that the recommendations of the consultations be treated as political consensus. We will see in which areas there was a disagreement and see how EC and the Law Commission can step in. We will also see if there is a need to put on hold some recommendations or drop them altogether,” said Election Commissioner Naseem Zaidi.

Brahma and Zaidi also said that 70 per cent of the participants in the meet, including representatives of various political parties, had favoured state funding, but it had also been felt more consultations would be required to work out the modalities.

The consultation was attended by Justice (retd) A P Shah, chairman of Law Commission, and several former chief election commissioners like J M Lyngdoh, T S Krishnamurthy, N Gopalaswami, Navin Chawla and S Y Quraishi.

Shah said that money came in truck loads during elections and candidates had been known to give Rs 5,000 to each voter in Tamil Nadu.

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