255th report of Law Commission - Suggested Electoral Reforms

255th report of Law Commission - Suggested Electoral Reforms

Question - “Independent candidates should not be allowed to contest elections.” Discuss electoral reform pertaining to election finance and regulation of political parties as well as inner democracy as proposed by the 255th report of the Law Commission headed by Justice A. P. Shah.

Justice Shah headed Law Commission has submitted its 255th report and proposed the following electoral reforms:

Election Finance

• Reforms have been proposed on issues such as candidate expenditure limits, revelation of obligations of candidates and political parties, penalties for parties and issue of elections state funding

• Election expenses incurred/permitted by candidates/election agents should apply from date of election notification to date of result declaration

• AGM and not Board of Directors should be authorising contribution of company funds to political parties

• Candidates and election agents should maintain an account and disclose particulars pertaining to election expenses for certain types of contributions for example from a non Government company

• District election officer should be able to provide a file for public inspection on payment of prescribed fee the expenditure reports of the contesting candidate

• Annual accounts should be maintained and submitted by political parties

• Contributions in excess of INR 20000 should be disclosed, including aggregate contributors from single donors and names, addresses as well as PAN card numbers of donors; Particulars can also be disclosed for contributions lower than INR 20,000 if they exceed INR 20 crore or 20% of party’s total contributions

• Contribution reports to be publicly disclosed on payment of fees

• Election Commission of India’s guidelines have said statement of election expenditure must be followed

• Candidates who fail to lodge election expenses account or contribution reports to be disqualified for 5 years instead of 3

• Express penalties and loss of tax benefits should be imposed on non-complying parties

• Those accepting contributions from impermissible donors should levy a penalty of 5 times the amount accepted

• Indirect in kind subsidies approved by the Commission

Regulation of Political Parties and Inner Party Democracy

• Commission also recommends amendment of memo/rules saying parties should indicate that they would not engage in violence for political gains and enable discrimination or distinction associated with race, creed, caste, language or residence

• Reforms in areas such as matters related to internal democracy, party constitutions, party organisations, candidate selection, internal elections, voting methods and processes, and the power to de-register non complying parties by the ECI

• De-registration of a political party for failure to contest elections for the Parliament or the State for 10 consecutive years also added

Facts and Stats

This is the 255th report of the Law Commission.

It has also submitted amendments pertaining to:

• Proportional representation
• Anti Defection Law in India
• Strengthening the ECI office
• Paid News and Political Ads
• Opinion Polls
• Compulsory Voting
• Election Petitions
• NOTA and the Right to Reject
• Right to Recall
• Totaliser for Counting of Votes
• Restriction on Government Sponsored Advertisements
• Restriction on Seats for Contesting Elections by Candidates
• Nomination of Political Candidates
• Independent Candidates
• Preparation/Use of Common Electoral Rolls
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