Elections generate black money and ADR demands scrutiny of electoral expenditure

The ADR says that the fight against black money will be incomplete without a check on the source of political funding

GN Bureau | December 17, 2014



With political parties getting unaccounted funds to the tune of over 70%, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has asked for a strict regulation of donations of this kind being used in the country’s electoral process. The ADR says that the fight against black money will be incomplete without a check on the source of political funding.

In a letter to justice M B Shah, chairman of the special investigation team (SIT) on black money, ADR has demanded that details of political party funding and expenditure and declaration of IT Returns of MPs should be put in the public domain and there should be a scrutiny of under-reporting of election expenditure.

Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, founder-trustee of ADR, said that the task of preparing a comprehensive action plan, including the creation of necessary institutional structure to enable and strengthen the country’s battle against unaccounted money cannot be complete unless proper attention is paid to the funding of the electoral and political processes of the country.”

ADR’s analyses of IT returns of national parties between the financial year (FY) 2004-05 and 2012-13 shows that the total income of the parties from unknown sources amounted to Rs.4,368.75 crore or say 72.98% of total income of national parties.

It highlights the curious cases like that of BSP where the party had declared total income of Rs.585.07 crores between FY 2004-05 and FY 2012-13 of which Rs.307.31 crores was from voluntary contributions. But the names and other particulars of these ‘voluntary’ contributors have not been disclosed as the party maintains that no donation above Rs.20,000 was received. The party has not declared even a single donor’s name in eight years.

In spite of mandatory declaration, the ADR says that the political parties either do not file election expenditure statements or indulge in delayed filing. BJP and a few regional parties have not yet submitted their expenditure statements for Karnataka Assembly Elections held in 2013 (deadline was July 22, 2013). Even for the lok Sabah elections held in 2014-15, political parties have not submitted their election expenditure statements when the deadline was August 26, 2014.

Out of more than 1600 registered political parties, only 464 contested in the Lok Sabha elections held in 2014 thus raising the question on the need for registering as a political party when not actively taking part in the political process, ADR points in its letter to SIT
 
The NGO has called for a ceiling on election expenditure of political parties, disclosure of source of income of candidates and election expenditure statements.

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