BJP, Congress Have Not Filed Annual Audit Reports With Poll Panel, Court Told

The submission was made in an affidavit placed before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar.

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BJP, Congress Have Not Filed Annual Audit Reports With Poll Panel, Court Told

The poll panel said it has sent reminders to the parties which are in default. (File)


New Delhi:  The BJP and the Congress are yet to submit their annual audit report for the year 2016-17 to the Election Commission, the poll panel informed the Delhi High Court on Wednesday.

The submission was made in an affidavit placed before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar which was hearing an NGO's plea for implementation of a Law Commission recommendation to enact a provision to monitor and regulate the expenditure by political parties.

An annexure in tabular form, attached with the affidavit, indicates that while the audit reports for 2014-15 and 2015-16 were filed by the two parties, in the column for the year 2016-17, it says "report not filed".

Senior advocate Arvind Nigam, appearing for the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms, said that the poll panel has to ensure that these parties submit their reports to it on time.

He said if the big parties like the BJP and the Congress do not do it, how can they expect smaller ones to comply.

The poll panel said it has sent reminders to the parties which are in default.

The bench noted the contention of the NGO that the poll panel was not ensuring that political parties follow the statutory requirements and also took on record the affidavit filed by election commission.

It told the election commission that it needs to do its statutory duty without waiting for court orders and listed the matter for hearing on September 10.

The court on the last hearing had asked the panel about the steps taken to ensure implementation of its regulations to bring transparency in the expenditure of political parties and funds received by them.

In its affidavit, the poll panel has said that all political parties are required to submit their annual audit and contribution reports to it which are then uploaded on its website for public viewing.

The poll panel told the court that reminders are sent to the parties which are in default of these requirements and added that those who do not file their contribution reports on time are processed by the Income Tax department for denial of tax benefits.

It also told the bench that in the instant matter it has issued reminders to the BJP and the Congress for not filing their annual audit reports.

According to the affidavit, both parties have filed their contribution reports.

The NGO, in its petition, has claimed that despite there being guidelines in place, political parties were not abiding by them.

It has said that despite the Law Commission's recommendations, there was no provision yet in the Representation of the People Act and the Election Rules to monitor the poll expenses of political parties.

The plea has alleged that such a provision has "deliberately" not been enacted despite the Supreme Court having held that the election commission has the power to give effect to the law panel's recommendations.

The NGO has claimed that the existing law "does not measure up to the existing realities".

It has alleged that since the present political system was being "funded through various illegal means and also by the people and corporate agencies with vested interests, it (political system) does not seem to be inclined to give effect to the recommendations of the Law Commission".


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