Demonetisation has had no impact on political party funding, say experts

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New Delhi, Jan 30: There is a nexus between the bureaucracy and politicians where recovering election expenditure is concerned said former chief election commissioner, Dr SY Qureshi. He was speaking at a discussion organised by the Association for Democratic Reforms on Effects of Demonetisation on Political Financing and Black Money.

Dr Qureshi noted that political parties could not agree on expenditure limits or the rationalisation of expenditure limits. He recommended state funding of political parties be based on their performance, instead of state funding of elections. He proposed that in such a model regular CAG audits would be conducted and there will be a total ban on any private donations.

Party funding not affected by noteban

Political parties never legislate against their interest, and all the electoral reforms till date have been through the Supreme Court's intervention. He suggested that the way forward was through collaboration between Civil Society organisations and the media, and stressed on the requirement of internal democracy in political parties.

HS Brahma, former CEC said demonetisation has had no impact on political party funding. "Political parties can submit any amount of money and there is no restriction on their expenditure, therefore it's easy to convert black money by shifting it into the accounts of political parties. There should be a threshold limit of Rs 2,000 as ECI has recommended and political parties must be made accountable for the conduct of candidates they field during elections," Brahma said.

Justice GC Bharuka added that election process is contaminated by two means, muscle power and money power. He also explained the Section 13(A) of the IT Act which states that political parties have to maintain accounts for their donations below Rs 20,000. Though they don't have to disclose the details of their source, they have to give proper balance sheet for expenditure. He added that there is a lack of coordination between ECI and the IT department.

Justice Bharuka said that the theme of the Constitution is that there should be purity in elections. He said, the IT Act provides for remedies and political parties cannot escape from those provisions. "There are enough legal provisions but there is failure on the part of the administration. Good coordination is required between various government authorities for required political reforms," he stated. He added that under the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, this is the duty of the authorities under the Act to educate citizens about their rights and duties.

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