Exploring State Funding of Elections in India: Views of Committees and Commissions
State funding of elections, which involves the government providing financial support to political parties and candidates, has been proposed as a way to increase transparency and reduce corruption in the electoral process in India. The idea is that by providing state funding, political parties will be less reliant on funding from corporate houses and other private sources, which can often come from undeclared income or black money. In this article, we will explore the views of various committees and commissions on state funding of elections, as well as its potential benefits and limitations.
The Indrajit Gupta Committee (1998)
- The Indrajit Gupta Committee, which was set up to examine the issue of electoral reforms, endorsed state funding of elections. The committee saw “full justification constitutional, legal as well as on ground of public interest” in providing state funding in order to establish a fair playing field for parties with less money.
- The committee recommended two limitations to state funding: firstly, that state funds should be given only to national and state parties allotted a symbol and not to independent candidates, and secondly, that in the short-term state funding should only be given in kind, in the form of certain facilities to the recognized political parties and their candidates.
The 1999 Law Commission of India report
- The Law Commission of India report concluded that total state funding of elections is “desirable” so long as political parties are prohibited from taking funds from other sources. The commission concurred with the Indrajit Gupta Committee that only partial state funding was possible given the economic conditions of the country at that time.
- Additionally, it strongly recommended that the appropriate regulatory framework be put in place with regard to political parties (provisions ensuring internal democracy, internal structures and maintenance of accounts, their auditing and submission to Election Commission) before state funding of elections is attempted.
The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008)
- The Second Administrative Reforms Commission report, titled “Ethics in Governance,” also recommended partial state funding of elections for the purpose of reducing “illegitimate and unnecessary funding” of elections expenses.
The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, 2001
- The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, 2001, did not endorse state funding of elections but concurred with the 1999 Law Commission report that the appropriate framework for regulation of political parties would need to be implemented before state funding is considered.
State funding of elections has been proposed as a way to increase transparency and reduce corruption in the electoral process in India. Various committees and commissions have recommended partial state funding as a way to establish a fair playing field for parties with less money. However, it is important to note that state funding of elections is not a standalone solution and must be implemented in conjunction with a regulatory framework for political parties.
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