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2,174 unrecognised parties to face ECI heat for not following norms

2,174 unrecognised parties to face ECI heat for not following norms
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New Delhi: Acting tough against registered unrecognised political parties (RUPPs) for non-compliance with statutory requirements, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday said that it has initiated action against 2,174 RUPPs for non-compliance with statutory requirements related to income tax exemptions and filing of audited reports.

In an official statement, the ECI said that it has initiated graded action against the registered unrecognised political parties under the relevant sections 29A and 29C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

"The Commission is cognizant that compliance to the conditions and regulations in the said Act are essential conditions for maintaining financial discipline, propriety, public accountability, transparency and empowering voters for making informed decisions," it said.

In the absence of required compliance, the electorate and ECI are deprived of basic factual information in ensuring ECI's mandate of conducting free, fair and transparent elections, the ECI said, adding that the Commission has evidence of serious financial impropriety, willful attempts for tax evasion and other illegal financial activities against three specific RUPPs amounting to fraudulent use of privileges and public trust available to them.

There are 2,796 registered unrecognised political parties in India as in September 2021, which is an increase of over 300 per cent since 2001.

As per the ECI findings, out of 2,354 RUPPs, over 92 per cent RUPPs have not filed their contribution report in 2019, while 199 RUPPs claimed Rs 445 crore IT exemptions in 2018-19 and 219 RUPPs claimed Rs 608 crore IT exemptions in 2019-20.

Out of 219, 66 RUPPs have claimed income tax exemption without submitting contribution reports in Form 24A as mandated under section 29C of the Act and 87 RUPPs have been found to be not in existence.

For the year 2019, 2,056 RUPPs have not yet filed their annual audited accounts and in the general election 2019, out of 2,354 RUPPs, only 623 contested elections, which means 70 per cent of RUPPs did not contest the election, it said.

The Commission has noted with serious concern that out of total 2796 RUPPs, a large number are neither taking part in the electoral process nor adhering to the one or several of the above requirements.

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