S.K. Rudola, Secretary, Election Commission of India, writes:
The Editorial headlined ‘Watching the money flow’ (April 11, 2014), mentioned that star campaigners’ expenses relating to helicopter/aircraft travel would be added to those of individual candidates for whom they campaigned. This interpretation is wrong factually and also under the law, and is not supported by any extant instruction from the Election Commission of India. The travel expenses of star campaigners of political parties are exempt under Explanation (1) to Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and under no circumstances will expenses incurred by a star campaigner towards the use of helicopters be added to the candidate’s account, whether the candidate shares the dais with the star campaigner or not.
The Supreme Court, in Amar Nath Chawla , spelt out the legal position regarding expenses incurred by a political party for general party propaganda, and expenses incurred for promoting the prospects of a candidate. As per the judgment, the Commission had issued instructions that any expenditure incurred by a political party which promotes the prospects of a particular candidate shall be accounted for by such candidate. However, the travel expenses of the star campaigner are exempted under Section 77 of the R.P. Act, 1951 and are not added to the account of the candidate. While candidates have a ceiling on campaign expenditure, political parties as a whole do not have any such ceiling. The Supreme Court in the said judgment held that the responsibility lies with the candidate to prove that the expenditure incurred is not to be accounted for by him/her and be treated as that for general party propaganda.
The Commission’s instruction is in line with the Supreme Court judgment. There has been no need to review the instruction.