India is among the lowest scoring countries on political finance regulation as per the Global Integrity Report. Suggest the immediate steps that should be taken towards improving India's position.

India is among the lowest scoring countries on political finance regulation as per the Global Integrity Report mainly because of cash donations and no need of disclose of source of donation if it is less than Rs. 20,000 {It was later made Rs. 2000}. Further:

  • There is no real threat of punishment to candidates who file false or misleading information regarding their personal assets and liabilities;
  • Travel expenditure towards star campaigner are not accounted for in the election expense accounts of candidates, as given in section 77 of RPA 1951;
  • Also the section 77 while capping the expenditure to be incurred, talks about candidates rather than political parties. Further, under the same section, the cap is applicable only from the date of nomination to date of declaration of results.
  • Section 123 of RPA makes bribery an offence– but giving free things to everybody without any condition of voting to a particular party, cannot be construed as bribery.

Steps to be taken to improve India’s Position:
The following steps will help in political finance regulation

  • Clause 58B to be added, so that Election commission can cancel election on the basis of money power like clause 58A of Representation of people act 1951, for cancelling election on the basis of use of muscle power.
  • Make bribery during election season as cognizable offence (Means a police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court.
  • Promotion of digital based donation, and to declare the same if it is above Rs2000.
  • Amend Section 29A of the RPA to explicitly empower the ECI to deregister parties that flout the rules – which involves that a party needs to certify their accounts from a CA in a free and fair manner.
  • Amend Section 125A of the RPA to enact severe penalties on those who declare misleading information in the filed affidavit.

The recent electoral reform announcement in Budget 2016-2017 is a case in point where announcement of electoral bond, disclosure of donation above 2000  is aimed to bring the transparency in election funding.

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