Political Affairs Current Affairs - 2019

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Election Commission guidelines on financial transparency

ECI’s (Election Commission of India) guidelines on financial transparency came into effect on October 1, 2014. The order was, however, passed on August 29.

Mode of holding funds and making payments

It is now virtually mandatory for political parties to deposit their funds in banks. Also, no payment in excess of Rs. 20,000 can be made to any person/company in cash, except in a village or town that doesn’t have a bank. Payments towards salary, pension or reimbursement of expenses of party employee/party functionary are exempt from the afore-mentioned rule.

Additionally, political parties cannot exceed the maximum limits that have been fixed in giving financial assistance to candidates

Maintenance of Accounts

It is the responsibility of the Treasurer of the political party to ensure maintenance of accounts at all state and lower levels along with the consolidated accounts at the central headquarters of the party. These accounts will be maintained in conformity with the guidance note on accounting and auditing of political parties that has been issued by the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). These accounts will then have to audited annually by certified chartered accountants in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Act

 ECI

The ECI derives the authority to issue the guidelines under Article 324 of the Constitution, which puts the onus of superintendence, direction and control of elections on the ECI. These guidelines are part of a larger set of comprehensive guidelines on transparency and accountability in party funds and election expenditure being brought out by the ECI. Some of the other areas where the constitutional body has been proactive are in conducting free and fair elections, issuing and enforcing the Model Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates, overseeing registration of political parties, fixing limits on poll expenses, curbing paid advertisements and prohibiting exit polls.

Jayalalitha convicted and jailed in graft case; O.Paneerselvam to be CM of TN

The 18 year long corruption case against former CM of TN (Tamil Nadu), J. Jayalalitha, reached its conclusion when a special court in Bangalore presided by Special Judge John D’Cunha convicted her under the Prevention of Corruption Act. She was sentenced to four years imprisonment and levied a fine of Rs. 100 cr.  The charge against her was of holding assets of Rs. 66.65 cr that were disproportionate to her known sources of income. This verdict marks the first ever conviction of a serving Chief Minister.

Two aides of Jayalalitha and her now disowned foster son were also convicted in this case.

After the sentence, Jayalalitha was taken to the Parappana Agrahara jail in Bangalore. Since she was sentenced to a period of more than three years, she will have to approach the HC of Karnataka for bail. She is also expected to file an appeal challenging the order of conviction. As of now, she stands disqualified as an MLA in accordance with the Representation of People’s Act, which also prohibits her from contesting elections for a period of six years after she finishes serving the sentence. However, if the order of conviction is stayed or overruled by a higher court, the disqualification will be annulled.

This is not the first instance of Jayalalitha having to step down as CM. In 2001, she had to step down temporarily till a higher court overturned the decision which sentenced her to two years rigorous imprisonment on a land deal case.

It has been decided that O.Paneerselvam, who was the Finance Minister of TN, will take Jayalalitha’s place as CM, following a meeting of the party’s MLAs. Mr. Paneerselvam had also served as CM for a period of six months in 2001 after Jayalalitha had resigned.

After the verdict was announced, incidents of violence were witnessed in various parts of Tamil Nadu. AIADMK supporters burnt effigies of leaders of opposing parties and went on a rampage destroying public properties. Shops were shut down and instances of buses being broken or burnt were also reported.