Political Parties Current Affairs - 2019

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SC directs political parties to furnish receipts of electoral bonds in to EC

The Supreme Court has directed all political parties to furnish details about the receipts of electoral bonds in a sealed cover to the Election Commission.

Electoral Bond Scheme

  • The government had notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018 on January 2, 2018.
  • As per provisions of the Electoral Bond scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India.
  • A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
  • Political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than one per cent of votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive electoral bonds.
  • Electoral bonds shall be encashed by an eligible political party only through a bank account with an authorized bank.

Interim Order of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by an NGO which challenged the validity of the scheme and sought that either the issuance of electoral bonds be stayed or names of donors be made public to ensure transparency in the poll process.

In an interim order passed by the Supreme Court, the apex court has directed all political parties to provide details of the amount and bank account of donors by May 30 to the Election Commission.

Political Parties Oppose Footing Bill for ads on criminal record

The political parties have opposed the directive of the Election Commission that a candidate should bear the bill to publicise his criminal record since it eats up the share of the election expenditure limit. Political Parties have written to the Election Commission expressing concerns over the Election Commissions directive.

What is the Issue?

To check the increasing criminalisation of politics in the Country, the Supreme Court had made it mandatory for every candidate contesting the election to inform the public at large about his criminal record in bold letters at least three times after filing of nomination papers through newspapers at large and electronic media.

The Election Commission had implemented this order of the Supreme Court in the recently held assembly polls in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Manipur, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.

The Election Commission had added the cost of these advertisements into candidate’s electoral expenditure while the Supreme Court order was silent on whether the expenditure would go on to the electoral expenditure account of the candidate.

Why the political parties are opposing?

The political parties are arguing that the candidates should not be made to bear the cost of advertising their criminal records since they are faced with an expenditure limit as per EC rules and this could impose a constraint on their campaign-related expenses.

The political parties also pointed out at the differential impacts on urban centres when compared to that at rural centres as newspaper and TV advertisements pricing is typically higher in cities.

Way Forward

A suggestion has been made that to shift the expenditure of these advertisements to the political party’s account from the candidates account as there is no expenditure limit for the party as of now.

There is also an argument that it is unfair to expect the political parties and candidates to bear the expense for advertising their own criminal record. Hence airtime and newspaper space could be allocated for this purpose as done for campaign purposes.