In a statement, the EC said “immediate corrective measures” were required to be taken in the larger public interest as well as for the “purity” of electoral democracy and hence it has also declared an additional 253 registered unrecognised political parties (RUPPs) as “inactive”.
The decision was taken by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey, it said.
“The EC today further delisted 86 non-existent RUPPs and declared additional 253 as ‘Inactive RUPPs’. This action against 339 non-compliant RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022,” the EC said.
The Commission said the 86 RUPPs that have been delisted were found to be “non-existent either after a physical verification carried out by the respective Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of concerned states/UTs or based on report of undelivered letters/notices from postal authority sent to the registered address of concerned RUPP”.
It had similarly delisted 87 and 111 RUPPs on May 25 and June 20 respectively.
The decision against 253 non-compliant RUPPs was taken based on reports received from CEOs of Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh. They were categorised as inactive, as they have “not responded to the letter/notice delivered to them and have not contested a single election either to the general assembly of a state or the Parliament election 2014 and 2019,” the EC said.
These RUPPs have failed to comply with statutory requirements for more than 16 compliance steps since 2015 and are continuing to default, it said.
The Income-tax department had last week conducted raids against certain RUPPs in some states as part of a tax evasion probe against them. The department is understood to have taken a decision on the basis of the EC action undertaken against the RUPPs in May-June following which it wrote to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to take “requisite action under extant legal framework.” The CBDT is the administrative authority for the tax department.
After the latest EC action, the 86 non-existent RUPPs, it said, shall be “deleted from the list of register of RUPPs and render themselves liable to be not entitled to have benefits under the Symbols Order, 1968.”
The 253 RUPPs marked as inactive “shall not be eligible to avail any benefit of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.”
The Commission said it is pertinent that the “privilege of a common symbol is given to RUPP based upon an undertaking for putting up at least 5 percent of total candidates with regard to said legislative assembly election of a state.”
“Possibility of such parties occupying the available pre-election political space by taking benefits of admissible entitlements without contesting elections cannot be ruled out. This also tends to crowd out the political parties actually contesting elections and also creating confusing situations for the voters,” it said.
The Commission explained the rationale behind taking the decision saying “it is cognizant that compliances of the birth conditions, which are a combination of mandated and self-acknowledged provisions, are sine qua non for maintaining financial discipline, propriety, public accountability, transparency.”
“The compliances work as the building blocks of a transparency mechanism for informing the voters of the affairs of the political parties necessary for making informed choices,” it said.
In the absence of required compliances, the statement said, the electorate and the Election Commission get blindsided, and further, all these stated regulatory requirements have a direct bearing on the Commission’s constitutional mandate of conducting free, fair, and transparent elections.
The EC said parties aggrieved from the latest order may approach the concerned CEO/Election Commission within 30 days of the issue of this direction along with all evidence of existence, and other legal and regulatory compliances including year-wise (for all years under default) annual audited accounts, contribution report, expenditure report, updating of office bearers including authorized signatories for financial transactions (including bank account).
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited and is published from a syndicated feed.)