There is a need to keep non serious parties out of the political system, and to ensure they do not misuse facilities like tax exemption, their registration should be regulated by law, a parliamentary panel has said. The recommendation of the committee comes days after the Election Commission wrote to the Income Tax department asking it to look into the finances of 255 political parties it has ‘delisted’ for not contesting elections.
The Commission has, over a period of time, identified various parties which have not contested polls since 2005 and has ‘delisted’ 255 of them. The poll panel believes that most of them exist on papers to help people convert their back money into white by accepting donations.
While the poll watchdog has the mandate to register a political party, it lacks power under electoral laws to deregister any party. “The Committee is of the view that provisions relating to registration of political parties needs to be made more stringent so that non serious political parties are not able to register in the first place and if registered, their registration could be cancelled,” the parliamentary standing committee on Law and Personnel has said in it’s latest report tabled in the just-concluded Budget session.
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The committee said the possibility of regulating registration of political parties and suspension/cancellation of their registration through a law should also be explored to “prevent misuse of facilities available to registered political parties by unscrupulous elements”. As its demand to get power to deregister a party is pending with the Law Ministry, the Election Commission uses its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to delist parties for being dormant and not contesting elections for a long time.
There are over 1,780 registered, but unrecognised political parties in the country.
Besides, there are seven national parties – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Trinamool Congress (TMC), Communist Party of India (CPI), CPI (M) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – and 58 State parties.