Political parties demand withdrawal of Election Commission's poll-funding guidelines

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Parties demand withdrawal of EC's rules
New Delhi, Nov 9: Political parties have opposed the Election Commission (EC) guidelines on ensuring transparency in electoral funds and sought their rollback calling them legally "untenable" and "vague".

The EC had implemented these guidelines, called Transparency and Accountability in Party Funds and Election Expenditure, from October 1 this year and had stipulated a slew of measures including a ban on cash payments above Rs 20,000 except by cheque. These norms aim to end opaqueness in the process of getting donations and funds by political parties in their coffers and those given to candidates.

Questioning the "legality and constitutionality" of implementing these directives, Congress said the guidelines "are legally untenable and are liable to be set aside on judicial review."

"It is, therefore, requested that before giving effect to the guidelines, the Commission may be pleased to hold a meeting of all the political parties on the subject and also refer the matter to the Ministry of Law and Justice for taking appropriate action as per law," Congress treasurer Motilal Vora wrote on October 7 explaining his party's stand on the subject to the EC.

Taking a similar stand, the CPI (Marxist) told the EC that many of these directives "are vague and there are possibilities of different interpretations and misinterpretations". The party said it collects its funds through public meetings and street collection drives and there are "practical difficulties" in issuing individual acknowledgement or receipts or coupons to the donors of 'hundi' collections and others.

"We request that appropriate changes in the guidelines should be made based on our comments. We have also suggested that the Election Commission should call a meeting of the political parties before finalisation of the guidelines," party General Secretary Prakash Karat said in his letter on October 9 to the EC.

Under the new guidelines, the treasurer of a political party is now required to ensure maintenance of accounts at all state and lower levels and consolidated accounts at the central party headquarters.

PTI

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