EC for stringent law to deal with political funding

RSTV Bureau

File Photo(PTI)

Batting for a “strong law” regarding political funding, Election Commission on Monday said use of black money during elections has to be checked as it creates imbalance in a democratic system.

Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma said in New Delhi that India needs a “strong law” to deal with the issue of political funding and to usher in “good accountability”.

He said black money and money power, followed by muscle power create imbalances in electoral process and are not good for a healthy democracy.

“Black money impinges 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 inaugurating a day-long consultations on ‘political, finance and Law Commission recommendations’ on electoral reforms.

Giving an example, he said there had been reports that candidates spend up to Rs 15 crore in assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh. “From where does the money come and where does it go,” he wondered.

Referring to the response of political parties on the issue of money power, Brahma said they also agree that its use should be curbed. He said privately most political leaders have agreed that money power is bad.

“Political parties and EC have to live happily like husband and wife,” he said adding that there could be differences but the aim should be to cleanse the electoral system.

Speaking on the occasion, Law Commission Chairman Justice (Retd) A P Shah said money comes in truck loads during elections. He said in Tamil Nadu, candidates have been known to give Rs 5000 per person to electors to vote in their favour

Justice Shah said when corporates influence political parties, the later start projecting the interests of the former as the interest of the people.

He also said that corporates are now taking over media houses.

Referring to the recent recommendations made by the law panel on electoral reforms, he said the Companies Act should be amended to require passing of a resolution authorising the contribution from the company’s funds to a political party at the company’s Annual General Meeting instead of its Board of Directors.

On the issue of electoral finances, he said election expenses incurred or authorised by candidates or their election agents, currently extends from the date of nomination to the date of declaration of results. This period should be extended to apply from the date of notification of the polls to the date of declaration of results.

The Commission had said in its report that the disqualification of a candidate for its failure to lodge an account of election expenses and contributions reports should be extended from the current three year period up to a five year period, so that a defaulting candidate may become ineligible to contest at least the next elections.