How does the Representation of People’s Act regulate campaign financing and expenditure during elections? Examine.
जनप्रतिनिधित्व अधिनियम चुनाव के दौरान अभियान के वित्तपोषण और व्यय को कैसे नियंत्रित करता है? परीक्षण कीजिए।
Candidates can start the answer by giving idea of RPA Acts and its provisions related to expenditures and funding-finance write points on candidate and party level.
The Constitution empowers Parliament to make provisions for elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures. In order to exercise this power, the Parliament enacted laws such as the RPA Act 1950 and RPA Act 1951.
Expenditure by candidate:
- Under Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, every candidate shall keep a separate and correct account of all expenditure incurred between the date on which they have been nominated and the date of declaration of the result.
- All candidates are required to submit their expenditure statement to the ECI within 30 days of the completion of the elections.
- An incorrect account or expenditure beyond the cap can lead to disqualification of the candidate by the ECI for up to three years, under Section 10A of RPA, 1951.
- Recently, the expenditure limit for candidates for Lok Sabha constituencies was increased from Rs 54 lakh-Rs 70 lakh (depending on states) to Rs 70 lakh-Rs 95 lakh, by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
- As of now, the sources and uses of party funds are opaque not just to the public and the regulators but also to party members.
- Much of this comes as secret contributions from profit seekers wanting unjustifiable preferences in purchase and construction contracts, or appointments and postings, or policy changes designed to aid them vis-a-vis some competitor.
- Political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which secured at least 1% of votes polled in the last General Election to the Lok Sabha or the State Legislative Assembly are eligible to receive Electoral Bonds.
- However, all registered political parties have to submit a statement of their election expenditure to the ECI within 90 days of the completion of the elections.
- It is mandatory for the political parties to submit to the ECI a list of donations they received above Rs. 2,000. Political parties cannot receive more than Rs 2000 as cash donations.
- Now, political parties are eligible to accept contributions from foreign companies defined under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
Concerns Regarding Expenditure and financing of the elections:
- False Disclosures: Even after the provision of the declaration of expenditure in the RPA act, candidates do not disclose all expenditure and provide wrong and incomplete information.
- Contradicting to its Basic Idea: The central criticism of the electoral bonds scheme is that it does the exact opposite of what it was meant to do: bring transparency to election funding.
- Compromising Right to Know: The Supreme Court of India has long held that the “right to know”, especially in the context of elections, is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression (Article 19) under the Indian Constitution.
- The RPAs lack clear provisions and guidelines on the matters related to the misuse of official machinery that gives an unfair advantage to the ruling party at the time of elections and leads to the misuse of public funds for furthering the prospects of candidates of a particular party.
The RPA,1951 provides for the expenditure monitoring mechanism which ensures the accountability and transparency of the candidate and party but it needs to be more agile to reduce role of money and misuse of money power for election benefits.