Election Commission guidelines on financial transparency
ECI’s (Election Commission of India) guidelines on financial transparency came into effect on October 1, 2014. The order was, however, passed on August 29.
Mode of holding funds and making payments
It is now virtually mandatory for political parties to deposit their funds in banks. Also, no payment in excess of Rs. 20,000 can be made to any person/company in cash, except in a village or town that doesn’t have a bank. Payments towards salary, pension or reimbursement of expenses of party employee/party functionary are exempt from the afore-mentioned rule.
Additionally, political parties cannot exceed the maximum limits that have been fixed in giving financial assistance to candidates
Maintenance of Accounts
It is the responsibility of the Treasurer of the political party to ensure maintenance of accounts at all state and lower levels along with the consolidated accounts at the central headquarters of the party. These accounts will be maintained in conformity with the guidance note on accounting and auditing of political parties that has been issued by the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). These accounts will then have to audited annually by certified chartered accountants in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Act
The ECI derives the authority to issue the guidelines under Article 324 of the Constitution, which puts the onus of superintendence, direction and control of elections on the ECI. These guidelines are part of a larger set of comprehensive guidelines on transparency and accountability in party funds and election expenditure being brought out by the ECI. Some of the other areas where the constitutional body has been proactive are in conducting free and fair elections, issuing and enforcing the Model Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates, overseeing registration of political parties, fixing limits on poll expenses, curbing paid advertisements and prohibiting exit polls.