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Report No. 255

D. Recommendations

3.17.1. Introducing internal democracy and transparency within political parties is important to promote financial and electoral accountability, reduce corruption, and improve democratic functioning of the country as a whole. As the Law Commission in its 170th report recognised, "whether by design or by omission, our Constitution does not provide for the constitution and working of the political parties, though they are at the heart of a parliamentary democracy."

3.17.2. While the RP Act does not permit the regulation of the functioning or ideology of the parties, the ECI's Guidelines and Application Format for the Registration of Political Parties under Section 29A only prescribe provisions for internal accountability and not candidate selection. Even so, these provisions do not expressly apply to existing parties, are not backed by penal provisions, and cannot bar parties from contesting elections.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court in Indian National Congress (I) v. Institute of Social Welfare has made it clear that the ECI currently lacks the power to deregister a party under Section 29A of the RP Act. Thus any changes need to be introduced legislatively. The power of de-registration should also extend to cases where registered parties avail the benefits of income tax exemption under section 13A, IT Act, but have not contested any Parliamentary or State elections in ten years consecutive years.

3.17.3. Although it is open for India to follow Germany/Portugal or Spain's example, it is recommended that any powers to the ECI should extend to the regulation of action and not ideology, given the complex socio-religious- political fabric of the country, its diversity, and secular principles. The German example has to be viewed in the context of its violent Nazi history and cannot immediately be transplanted to India.

3.17.4. Keeping this in mind, the following recommendations are proposed:

1. Section 29A(5) of the RPA should be amended is in accordance with the draft Political Parties (Registration and Regulation of Affairs) Act to require parties to insert a specific provision in their memorandum to "shun violence for political gains, and avoid discrimination or distinction based on race, caste, creed, language or place of residence". Thus, the amended section 29A(5) reads as follows:

"29A.- (5) The application under sub-section (1) shall be accompanied by a copy of the memorandum or rules and regulations of the association or body, by whatever name called, and such memorandum or rules and regulations shall contain a specific provision that the association or body shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy, would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India, shun violence for political gains, and avoid discrimination or distinction based on race, caste, creed, language or place of residence."

2. The proposed Sections 11A-I of the RPA finding place in the 170th Report of the Law Commission in 1990, should be introduced with certain modifications, through a legislative amendment as a new Part IVB titled "Regulation of Political Parties", starting from section 29J. A provision should also be inserted empowering the ECI to de-register a party for failing to contest any Parliamentary or Legislative Assembly elections for ten consecutive years. The new Part reads as follows:

Part IVC

Regulation of Political Parties

29J. Formation of political partie.- (1) Political parties can be freely formed by the citizens of this country. The political parties shall form a constitutionally integral part of free and democratic system of Government.

(2) Each political party shall frame its constitution defining its aims and objects and providing for matters specified in this Part. The aims and objects of a political party shall not be inconsistent with any of the provisions of the Constitution of India.

(3) A political party shall strive towards, and utilize its funds exclusively for, the fulfilment of its aims and objects and the goals and ideals set out in the Constitution of India.

29K. Name of political parties and power to su.- (1) A political party may sue and may be sued in its own name. A political party shall be competent to hold and dispose of properties.

(2) The name of a political party must be clearly distinguishable from that of any existing political party and shall be subject to approval by the Election Commission. In election campaigns and in elections, only the registered name or its acronym, as may have been approved by the Election Commission, alone shall be used.

29L. Constitution of a political part.- The Constitution of a political party shall provide for the following matters:-

(a) name of the political party and acronym (if used) and the aims and objectives of the party;

(b) procedure for admission, expulsion and resignation by the members;

(c) rights, duties and obligations of the members;

(d) grounds on which and the procedure according to which disciplinary action can be taken against the members;

(e) the general organisation of the party including the formation of State, regional, district, block and village level units;

(f) composition and powers of the executive committee (by whatever name it is called) and other organs of the party;

(g) the manner in which the general body meetings can be requisitioned and conducted and the procedure for requisitioning and holding conventions to decide questions of continuance, merger and other such fundamental organisational matters;

(h) the form and content of the financial structure of the party consistent with the provisions of this part.

29M. Executive committee.- The executive committee of a political party shall be elected. Its term shall not exceed years. Well before the expiry of the term, steps shall be taken for electing a new executive committee. It shall be open to the executive committee to constitute a sub-committee (by whatever name called) to carry out the business of the executive committee and to carry on regular and urgent executive committee business. The members of the sub-committee shall be elected by the members of the executive committee.

29N. Voting procedure.- A political party and its organs shall adopt their resolutions on the basis of a simple majority vote. The voting shall be by secret ballot.

29O. Candidate selectio.- The candidates for contesting elections to the Parliament or the Legislative Assembly of the States shall be selected by the executive committee of the political party having due regard for the recommendations and resolutions passed by the concerned local party units.

29P. Regular election.- It shall be the duty of the executive committee to take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the provisions of this chapter including holding of elections at all levels. The executive committee of a political party shall hold elections of national and State levels in the presence of the observers to be nominated by the Election Commission of India. Where considered necessary, the Election Commission may also send its observers at elections to be held at other national and state levels.

29Q. Penalties for non complianc.- The Election Commission shall be competent to inquire, either suo motu or on information received into allegation of non-compliance of any of the provisions of this Part. If on due inquiry, the Election Commission is satisfied that there has been non-compliance of any of the provisions of this chapter by any political party, the Commission shall call upon the party to rectify the non-compliance within the period prescribed by the Election Commission.

In case, the non-compliance continues even after the period so prescribed, it shall be open to the Election Commission to impose such fine on the political party as it may deem appropriate in circumstances of the case including imposition of a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- per day for each day of non-compliance and withdrawal of registration of the party.

29R. Penalty for failure to contest elections for ten years consecutivel.- (1) If any political party registered under section 29A of this Act does not contest any election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of a State for ten consecutive years, its registration shall be liable to be cancelled by the Election Commission.

(2) The Election Commission shall scrutinise the registrations of all the political parties under section 29A, and if it finds that any registered party has not contested any election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of a State for ten consecutive years, it shall cancel such registration."

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