New Delhi

There should be a cap on expenditure by political parties, not only on poll campaigns but also on expenses immediately prior to the announcement of polls.

This was one of the recommendations of a group chaired by JM Lyngdoh, former Chief Election Commissioner, at a national consultation on Political Finance and Law Commission Recommendations, held here on Monday.

NR Madhav Menon, Founder of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, is co-chairman of the group.

The group said there should be no third party expenditure without the prior sanction of the Election Commission and consultation of candidates/political parties.

If there is such an expenditure, it should be completely prohibited, it said.

Besides, the members of the group were of the opinion that if corporates want to contribute to political parties they should do so to an election corpus which should provide for in-kind funding like distributing food packets, rather than cash.

The identity of all donors must be disclosed, the group unanimously felt.

The group was also unanimous in recommending that the disqualification period for failure to lodge accounts be enhanced to five years from the current three years.

It suggested that an election corpus or trust may be formed from corporate contributions to begin with, but at a later date an election tax may be levied.

The group recommended that there should be a screening  mechanism or certain minimum eligibility criteria laid down for such funding.

There were certain dissenting opinions with regard to direct funding. The first was on the enforceability of direct funding.

Also, there was some apprehension that if State funding is based on the vote share of the current representation, it could lead to inequalities between large and small parties in the fray.

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