Political parties have to file details about the donations received by them above Rs 20,000 and provide information about name, address and PAN number of donors with the Election Commission of India. They also have to submit the mode of payment, date of donation in the Donation report with the EC. Despite these directives, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the lone national party which has failed to submit the details of donations received with the EC for the financial year 2013-2014. Among the recognised regional parties, only 17 parties out of a total of 45 parties have submitted their contributions reports.
The Representation of the People Act, 1951 states that “…the report for the financial year under sub-section (1) shall be submitted by the treasurer of a political party or any other person authorised by the political party in this behalf before the due date for furnishing a return of its income of that financial year under Section 139 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961), to the Election Commission.”. As the due date for submission of the parties’ audited IT Returns was 31st October,’14, BJP and 28 regional recognised parties have defaulted on their donations report by more than a month. It is to be noted that BJP had declared the maximum amount of Rs 83.19 crores from 2941 donations during the Financial Year 2012-13.
BSP had declared that no donation above Rs 20,000 was received by the party during FY 2013-14 and filed the report on 13th Sept,’14, while NCP had filed its report on 17th Sept,’14, and declared donations from 15 donors. CPI had filed its report on 23rd Sept,’14 and declared receiving donations above Rs 20,000 from 44 donors. CPM and INC filed their donations report on the 30th Sept,’14 and declared donations from 70 and 712 donors respectively.
While analysing the donations reports of National Parties it is seen that Indian National Congress (INC) has not followed the format prescribed by the ECI in declaring its donations details. The column for declaring PAN details of donors is not provided in the contributions reports. Without the PAN details, it would be difficult to link the donors against their donations and hence trace the money trail.
There are 182 donations to INC via bank transfer where the details of bank transfer (name of bank, location, etc) and the PAN details of the donors are unavailable. Also, there are a total of 64 donations made by cash to INC which contain no details of PAN, hence will remain untraceable.
Maj Gen Anil Verma (Retd.) Head National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms said, “For greater transparency and accountability in the functioning and finances of political parties, it is crucial for the parties to submit their donations statements in the format specified by the ECI apart from filing the same within the time limit set by the ECI. This can be achieved by making the submission of donations statement mandatory for all political parties rather than only for the purpose of claiming tax exemption.”
Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, IIM Ahmedabad (Retd), Founder Member National Election Watch, Association for Democratic Reforms said, “ADR recommends that the details of all donors to Electoral Trusts should also be available in the public domain to increase transparency of funding of political parties.”