Reading the Pulse | IT raids: What are unrecognised political parties?

Reading the Pulse | IT raids: What are unrecognised political parties?

The Income Tax (IT) Department Wednesday conducted raids in multiple states as part of a pan-India tax evasion probe against certain registered unrecognised political parties (RUPPs) and their alleged dubious financial transactions. At least 110 locations in Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and other states were searched, as per officials.

On June 21 this year, the EC had decided to delete 111 additional RUPPs from the register as part of the poll panel’s “graded action” against parties that flouted its rules.

The EC had deleted 87 RUPPs in May after announcing a clean-up drive against more than 2,100 such parties that it said had violated a string of rules by failing to furnish contribution reports or communicating changes to party-related information.

The poll panel had also sent a reference to the revenue department for necessary legal and criminal action against three RUPPs that it said were involved in “serious financial impropriety”.

EC data till September 2021 showed 2,796 RUPPs in the country — an increase of more than 300% since 2001.

How are parties recognised?

It is not mandatory to register with the Election Commission but registered political parties can avail the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (relating to registration of political parties).

As per the Election Commission, any party seeking registration has to submit an application within a period of 30 days following the date of its formation. These powers are conferred upon it by Article 324 of the Constitution and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The applicant has to publish a proposed party name in two national daily newspapers and two local daily newspapers, and provide two days for submitting objections, if any, with regards to the same before the Commission within 30 days from the publication.

An application for registration has to be sent by registered post or presented personally to the Secretary to the Election Commission within 30 days following the date of formation of the party. The application must be accompanied by a demand draft for Rs 10,000 and needs to have the latest electoral rolls in respect of at least 100 members of the party to show that they are registered electors. In addition, individual affidavits from at least 100 members of the party also need to be seen.

Candidates from a political party registered with the EC get preference in the matter of allotment of free symbols as opposed to purely independent candidates. These registered political parties can also get recognition as a ‘state party’ or a ‘national party’ if they meet the conditions prescribed by the Commission in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

Unrecognised parties can be newly registered parties or those which have not secured enough percentage of votes in the Assembly or general elections to fulfill the prescribed criteria to become a state party. They can also be parties that have never contested elections since their registration.

What benefits are not available to unrecognised parties?

They are not entitled to an exclusive allotment of a reserved election symbol. They have to choose from a list of ‘free symbols’ issued by the Commission. They are not eligible either to get free copies of electoral rolls, free authorisation for broadcast / telecast facilities over All India Radio / Doordarshan during Assembly and general elections, and are not eligible for subsidised land for party offices.