The Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided to initiate graded action against more than 2,100 Registered Unrecognised Political Parties (RUPPs) for non-compliance of statutory requirements under the Representation of the People (RP) Act.
On Wednesday, the ECI said that during a verification exercise, 87 such parties were found to be non-existent. They would be deleted from the list and their benefits under the Symbols Order (1968) withdrawn.
The particulars of 2,174 RUPPs -- which did not submit contribution reports -- would be sent to the Department of Revenue for taking all consequential action. The same recommendation has been made for three parties that were indulging in various serious financial improprieties, including using bogus donation receipts, forming shell entities and facilitating accommodation entries.
The Commission said that over 92% of the then listed 2,354 RUPPs did not file their contribution reports in 2019. While 199 claimed ₹445 crore of income tax exemption in 2018-19, 219 parties claimed ₹608 crore exemption in 2019-20. Of these, 66 had sought exemption without submitting the mandatory contribution reports. Also, 2,056 parties were yet to file annual audited accounts for 2019.
Only 623 contested the Lok Sabha election in 2019. Of the 115 parties headquartered in Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, which contested the Assembly elections in 2021, only 15 had filed election expenditure statements till date.
The ECI said that 66 parties had claimed income tax exemption in 2020 without complying with Section 29 C of the RP Act.
Increase of over 300%
Till September 2021, as many as 2,796 RUPPs were listed, which was an increase of over 300% since 2001. The Commission said the registered parties were required to comply with Section 29 C of the Act and furnish a contribution report. Such contributions were 100% exempted from income tax as an incentive to the parties for strengthening the electoral democracy.
Section 29A (9) of the Act mandates every political party to communicate any change in its name, head office, office bearers, address, PAN to the Commission without delay; they also have to submit audited annual statements and a return of income for each assessment year to be eligible for exemption from income tax.
The parties need to include in their constitution that they must contest an election conducted by the ECI within five years of registration. Upon participation in an election, they have to furnish their election expenditure statement within 75 days in case of Assembly polls and within 90 days in case of Lok Sabha election.
Any aggrieved party can approach the Chief Electoral Officer concerned with full facts within 30 days of the ECI order, along with all the evidence, to seek remedial action.