A parliamentary panel has recommended regulating the registration or suspension of political parties through a law of Parliament to prevent “non-serious” players from misusing the benefits extended to registered political outfits.
Close on the heels of the Election Commission (EC) flagging the misuse of political parties as conduits for the flow of illegal money, the parliamentary committee on personnel, public grievances law and justice has said in its latest report that the provisions relating to the registration of political parties needs to be made more stringent so that non-serious political parties are not able to register in the first place.
The panel wants the registration of all such parties that do not contest elections and exist only on paper to be cancelled.
“The possibility of regulating the registration of political parties and suspension/cancellation of their registration through a law of Parliament may also be explored to prevent misuse of facilities/benefits available to registered political parties by unscrupulous elements,” report submitted to Parliament this past week says.
In 2016, the EC initiated action against 225 parties out of the 1,864 registered (but non-recognised) ones for existing only on papers and had for never having contested any election since their formation.
The move is part of the poll panel’s drive to usher in electoral reforms, which also includes suggesting the lowering of cash donations to political parties from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000.
There are seven national parties, 48 state parties and 1,864 registered parties that are not recognised as on February 2017.
- 1. Kerala Congress – June 2012
- 2. Uttarakhand Kranti Dal – December 2012
- 3. Manipur People’s Party – December 2013
Registered but unrecognised political parties do not have the privilege of contesting elections on a symbol of their own. They have to choose from a list of ‘free symbols’ issued by the commission.
National parties have an allotted election symbol, which its candidates can use during polls across the country. Similarly, state parties too have symbols allotted to them, which cannot be used by any other party or candidate in the state where it is recognised.
Earlier, political parties had turned down the poll panel’s suggestion of increasing the security deposit during elections to weed out frivolous candidates.
Participation of political parties in general elections has increased many-fold over the years. In the last general election to Lok Sabha in 2014, 465 parties contested elections, up from 53 during the first general election in 1952.
The panel, headed by Congress MP Anand Sharma, has also suggested linking electoral rolls with the Aadhaar card number to prevent bogus voters being added to lists.
The poll panel had to suspend the process of linking electoral rolls and authenticating voter details with Aadhaar data after the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the unique identification number could be used only for PDS and LPG distribution schemes.
However, the parliamentary panel wants the commission to revisit the issue.
“The committee though is aware that Election Commission of India and the State Election Commissions are independent bodies, yet an initiative should be taken to prepare common digital electoral roll,” it said.