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EC proposal on foreign funding under govt consideration

An Election Commission (EC) proposal to bring a law to prohibit electoral trusts from accepting funds from foreign sources is being “actively” considered by the government, the poll panel said on Thursday.

At present, electoral trusts can raise funds from foreign sources because they are not expressly prohibited under law.

The Commission had recommended to the Finance and Law Ministries to make specific law, prohibiting electoral trusts accepting funds from foreign sources so that they are not able to transfer the funds to political parties. The law “will be in compliance with the provisions of Section 29 (B) of the Representation of the People Act. It is understood that proposal is being actively considered by the Law Ministry,” a statement issued by the poll watchdog said.

The issue came up for discussion at a recent meeting between the EC and the Law Ministry. The EC said the Law Ministry has also agreed to another proposal to have multiple cut-off dates for citizens to enrol as voters. As per the existing provisions, only a person who completes 18 years of age as on January 1 of a year is eligible to be enrolled in the electoral roll for that year. A person turning 18 after January 1 has to wait till the next year for getting enrolled.

The EC proposed that instead of only one qualifying date for enrolment, there should be four dates (January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1) for enrolment so that maximum number of people can be enrolled. “The Law Ministry suggested that instead of four dates, we may introduce two dates. Accordingly, the Commission proposed that January 1 and July 1 may be specified as qualifying dates for enrolment by amending electoral laws. It is understood that the above proposal of the EC is being favourably and actively processed by the Law Ministry,” the statement said. 

Law Ministry officials, quoting an opinion by then Attorney General late GE Vahanvati, said that it may require amendment to Article 326 of the Constitution.
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