The electoral commission decided on Monday to remove from its register 111 political parties deemed “non-existent” during a verification exercise aimed at cleaning up the system.
According to the polling committee, its action came after state chief electoral officers (CEOs) reported that these “unrecognized registered political parties” were found to be “non-existent” in the audit or that letters issued by the authorities to verify their addresses and communication details had been returned as undelivered by the postal service.
Subsequently, the EC decided to withdraw various benefits granted to these parties under the Symbols Ordinance (1968), including the allocation of a common electoral symbol.
In a statement, the polling panel said any Unrecognized Registered Political Party (RUPP) aggrieved by the decision can contact the affected CEO within 30 days with full proof of existence, audited annual accounts, contribution report , expense report and updated list. of officers.
Earlier this month, the EC removed 87 of these non-existent political parties from its register.
Polling panel sources shared specific details about various parties that flouted laws and rules on disclosure of funds and donations. These details are in the public domain and are available on the websites of the state Chief Electoral Officers.
The EC said a referral has also been sent to the Department of Revenue for necessary legal and criminal actions against three of these parties involved in serious financial irregularities.
A list of RUPPs that failed to submit their Contribution Reports in fiscal years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 has been shared with the Department of Revenue to take all consequential action in accordance with the Representation Act of the people, read together with the relevant provisions of the law. IT Act 1961, he says.
Another list of 66 RUPPs who claimed income tax exemption without submitting assessment reports as required by law was also shared with the Department of Revenue.
There are nearly 2,800 unrecognized registered political parties in India.
The polling panel had pushed the government to allow it to deregister political parties. On several occasions, he wrote to the Ministry of Justice to modify the electoral law to give him the power to deregister in order to deter parties that engage in financial and other irregularities.
Citing a May 25 order of the Election Commission, sources said various such parties across India had received tax breaks without properly sharing their audit and contribution reports. Citing details available on state CEO websites, they said several parties were flouting rules and laws.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar has spearheaded the cleanup campaign against these political entities.
During his previous position as Financial Services Secretary, Kumar had made the decision to ask banks to report shell companies debarred by company registrars and take appropriate action. More than 2.26 million front companies were deregistered in 2017-2018.
The sources said the Apna Desh party in Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh has two different people as its chairman. In the verification format, a name is mentioned as the president, but the sign was by another person.
Citing details, they said the party also failed to provide the mode of donations it receives.
Similarly, they cited the example of the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel party in Maharashtra whose balance sheets for two consecutive years did not match.
The party, the sources said citing details on the Maharashtra CEO’s website, was investing in gold.
The Bharatiya Rajnitik Vikalp party received about Rs.28 million in donations in two years, but no annual audit account was available on the CEO of Bihar’s website.
For the Jan Sangharsh Virat Party in Madhya Pradesh, the auditor certified a one-line profit and loss account without any details, they said.
The poll panel urged the government to ban anonymous contributions of Rs 2,000 and above.
He also pointed out that the current format does not include contributions amounting to less than Rs 20,000.
“Form 24A should be amended by including a column to mention total contributions received for amounts less than Rs 20,000. This will be in the interest of transparency,” reads one of the EC proposals. sent to the government.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)