SIT asked to check black money in elections

New Delhi: The battle against black money will be incomplete without addressing the "free flow" of unaccounted money into the electoral process, ADR has said in a letter to the SIT probing unaccounted money of Indians abroad and called for ceiling on election expenditure.

In a letter to Justice (retd.) M.B. Shah, chairman of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money, Jagdeep Chhokar, founder-trustee of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), said that SIT's work cannot be completed unless attention is paid to the possible use of unaccounted money in the electoral and political process.

Following the letter, ADR submitted a memorandum to SIT calling for a ceiling on election expenditure of political parties, bringing them under the Right to Information Act and disclosure of sources of income of candidates contesting elections.

"The availability of disproportionately large resources of unaccounted money with the political parties during elections might lend itself to misuse by the parties which belies the ideal of free and fair elections in a democratic setup like India. Thus a ceiling should be imposed on election expenditure of political parties," it said.

It also demanded the Chief Information Commissioner's decision bringing political parties under RTI should be complied with in order to instate transparency and accountability.

Referring to the need for financial disclosure for political parties, ADR said "curious cases like that of BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) have been observed where the party has declared total income of Rs.585.07 crore between 2004-05 and 2012-13 of which Rs.307.31 crore was from voluntary contributions."

The NGO said that of the more than 1,600 registered political parties, only 464 contested in the Lok Sabha election held this year "thus raising the question on the need for registering as a political party when not actively taking part in the political process".

ADR also noted there has been "an extraordinary growth" in assets declared by the candidates contesting elections as shown in their self-declared affidavits submitted during their nomination for the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.

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