Political parties received bulk of their donations, a whopping Rs 7,833 crore, from unknown sources between 2004-05 and 2014-15, says an election watchdog.

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in its report on funding patterns of national and regional parties found that sources of only 16% of the donations were revealed while 69% came from donors whose identities were not disclosed.

  • Contribution statements, detailing names and other details of donors who contribute above ₹20,000, are the only known sources of income of political parties
  • Unknown sources are income declared in tax returns but don’t mention source of income for donations below ₹20,000
  • Income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313%, from Rs 274.13 crore during 2004-05 to Rs 1,130.92 crore during 2014-15
  • BSP is the only party to consistently declare receiving nil donations above Rs 20,000.

The report, which comes against the backdrop of the Centre’s surgical strike on black money, is based on the income tax returns and statements filed by six national parties and 51 regional recognised parties.

In the I-T returns of parties, donations from unknown sources were shown as income without being specific. Political parties are not required to reveal the names of individuals or organisations making any donation below Rs 20,000. But they need to mention them in the I-T returns.

“As a result, over two-thirds of the funds cannot be traced and are from ‘unknown’ sources. This becomes very relevant in the light of the demonetisation announced to weed out black money from the society,” the report says.

The report also pointed out that while national parties were brought under the RTI Act by the CIC ruling in June 2013, they are yet to comply with the decision.

According to ADR, the unknown sources include ‘sale of coupons’, ‘Aajiwan Sahayog Nidhi’, ‘relief fund’, ‘miscellaneous income’, ‘voluntary contributions’.

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