The Telegraph
New Delhi

New Delhi, Oct. 24: The country’s largest two parties are among 24 that have not yet furnished details of their expenditures in this year’s general election, an NGO that monitors elections today said.

The Election Commission issued reminders after the deadline passed 10 weeks ago but these parties, which include the BJP and the Congress, are yet to respond, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) added.

It said the BJP, in particular, had been a habitual defaulter over the past one year, having failed to send its expenditure statements relating to the November-December Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Although the requirement to show poll expenses was stipulated by the Supreme Court, defaulters face no penal provisions.

After the court’s 1996 order, the Election Commission had made it mandatory for all recognised political parties to submit these details within 90 days of the declaration of results. Since the Lok Sabha results were announced on May 16, the deadline passed on August 14.

Political parties are required to reveal not just the sums they spent but also the amounts they received in cash, cheques and demand drafts from the time the election was notified till the last polling day.

The expenses to be disclosed come under the five heads of propaganda, travel, publicity, candidate and “others” and include all the spending at the central, state, district and constituency levels.

Notices have been issued to all the defaulting parties, which account for almost half the 49 recognised parties, according to a note posted on the poll commission website on September 8.

“While it’s crucial for the parties to submit their expenditure statements for greater financial transparency, it is equally important to file them within the deadline,” said Jagdeep Chokar of the ADR.

The commission website shows that several regional parties are yet to show details of their expenses during various state elections last year.

Account watch

Although the poll commission is struggling to get the recognised parties to show their election expenses, it has moved to extend the requirement to unrecognised parties and, further, keep a closer watch on all parties’ incomes round the year.

The parties are now required to submit details only of donations above Rs 20,000, providing each such donor’s name, address and PAN as well as the mode of payment and the sum donated.

However, unnamed benefactors who donate less than Rs 20,000 account for three-fourths of most political parties’ fund collections, ADR sources said.

Now the poll commission has issued a directive saying parties must furnish details of every donation, irrespective of its volume, and deposit the sum in their bank account within a week of its receipt.

These records must be furnished along with a copy of the auditor’s report by October 31 every year. This year, though, the parties have to show only a month’s accounts from October 1.

The directive is accompanied by a guidance note from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India saying the accounts must be audited and certified by qualified and practising chartered accountants.

Some of the other clauses in the directive:

The parties cannot pay more than Rs 20,000 on a single day to any person, company or entity in cash during elections;

Each unrecognised party must submit its election expenditure statement to the chief electoral officer of the state where it is headquartered.

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