The move was taken when state CEOs reported that these parties were determined to be “non-existent” either on verification or after letters provided by authorities to verify their addresses and communication data were returned by the postal department as undelivered.
The Election Commission of India announced Monday that it has decided to remove 111 political parties from its list after they were discovered to be “non-existent.”
On a check aimed at cleaning up the system, these political parties were found to be non-existent.
The ECI said the action was taken after state chief electoral officers (CEOs) reported that these “registered unrecognized political parties” were found to be “non-existent” upon verification or that letters sent by authorities to verify their addresses and communication details were returned by the postal department as undelivered.
This is the second time the ECI has reached such a decision this month. They have already removed 87 similar non-existent political parties.
In addition, the ECI has decided to revoke certain privileges granted to these parties under the Symbols Order (1968), including the allotment of a common electoral symbol.
The poll panel said in a statement that any registered unrecognized political party (RUPP) aggrieved by the decision could contact the CEO within 30 days with all proof of existence, year-by-year annual audited accounts, contribution report, expenditure report, and an updated list of office-bearers.
Sources in the survey panel revealed detailed facts about several parties that have broken laws and procedures regarding finance and donor transparency. This information is available on the websites of state chief electoral offices and is in the public domain.
According to the EC, three parties implicated in severe financial misconduct have been referred to the Department of Revenue for required legal and criminal procedures.
The Revenue Department has been given a list of RUPPs that have not submitted their contribution reports for the fiscal years 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20 to take all necessary action under the Representation of the People Act and the relevant provisions of the IT Act 1961, according to the statement.
The Revenue Department has also been given a list of 66 RUPPs that have claimed income tax exemption without filing contribution reports as required by law.
In India, there are about 2,800 unregistered political parties.
The survey panel has been lobbying the government to de-register political parties. It has written to the Legislation Ministry several times, requesting that the election law be amended to allow it to de-register parties that engage in financial or other irregularities.
According to sources, different parties throughout India have been receiving tax exemption without fully releasing their audit and donation records, citing an Election Commission decision dated May 25. They claimed that various parties were breaking norms and laws, citing information from state CEOs’ websites.
Rajiv Kumar, the Chief Election Commissioner, has led the charge against such political organizations.
Kumar had instructed banks to identify shell businesses deregistered by the Registrars of Companies and take necessary action during his previous appointment as the financial services secretary. In the 2017-18 fiscal year, about 2.26 lakh sham firms were deregistered.
According to accounts, the Apna Desh Party in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh, had two separate presidents. Although one name is named as president in the verification format, someone else made the sign.
They stated the party also neglected to give the method of donations it received, citing specifics.
They also used the example of the Maharashtra-based Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Party, whose balance records did not match for two years in a row.
According to the sources, the party was investing in gold, who cited information on the CEO Maharashtra’s website.
In two years, the Bharatiya Rajnitik Vikalp Party got roughly 28 crores in donations, but no yearly audit statements were posted on CEO Bihar’s website.
They added that the auditor validated a one-line profit and loss account without any information for the Jan Sangharsh Virat Party in Madhya Pradesh.
The polling panel has been pressing the government to outlaw anonymous contributions of $2,000 or more.
It has also been pointed out that the present format does not incorporate the contributions amounting to a sum below ₹20,000.
“Form 24A needs to be amended by including a column mentioning the total contributions received in amounts less than ₹20,000. This will be in the interest of transparency,” one of the EC proposals sent to the government read.