Expenditure on Holding Elections in India

New Delhi, Sep 7, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) The expenditure incurred on the Lok Sabha Elections (be it a General Election or Bye-elections) is entirely borne by the Central Government when such elections are held independently according to the policy of the Government. However, the expenditure on State/Union territory Legislative Assemblies is shared on a half and half basis only when such elections are held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections. For conduct of General Election to Lok Sabha, the State/Union Territory (with legislature) Governments proposes their demands to the Central Government as provisional estimates. The Central Government releases the funds to the State/Union territory Governments keeping in view the demands received from them and availability of funds for the election purpose. This exercise is of a routine nature and funds are released on a year-to-year basis. The State/ Union Territory Governments incur the expenditure for conduct of General Elections to Lok Sabha from their Consolidated Fund and thereafter make a claim for re-imbursement of the incurred amount to the Central Government. The Central Government releases the funds on provisional basis and the election accounts of the State/ Union territory Governments are settled only after receipt of the Audit Certificates from the Office of Accountant General of the concerned State/Union territory.

The demand raised by the State/Union Territory Governments on the basis of estimated expenditure for conducting of elections for the Lok Sabha in the year 2009 was approximately Rs.1,114.35 crore. Since the Government has not received the Audit Certificates from all the State/ Union Territory Governments, it is not possible to furnish the total actual expenditure incurred on the 2009 General Election to Lok Sabha.

The expenditure incurred on State Legislature(s) and Village, Block and District level Panchayats is related to the State Government concerned.

The demand raised by the State/Union Territory Governments on the basis of estimated expenditure for conducting elections to the Lok Sabha in the year 2004 was approximately Rs. 1,093.06 crore. The cost escalation on the election expenditure over the years has been due to general price rise, significant increase in the number of contestants and voters, which has consequently resulted in increased expenditure on polling booths and other election materials.

The Government is making every possible effort to keep the expenditure in relation to the conduct of elections to Lok Sabha at the barest minimum possible. The need for electoral reforms has been engaging the attention of the Election Commission of India and the Government in the recent past. The Election Commission of India had also made certain recommendations in this regard. Keeping in view the recommendations of the Commission as well as those of certain other Committees/Commissions which had gone into the said issue in the past, a Core-Committee was constituted on the 1st October, 2010 under the Chairmanship of an Additional Solicitor General, with a view to impacting comprehensive electoral reforms. The talking points of the Committee included (i) Criminalisation of Politics; (ii) Funding of Elections; (iii) Conduct and Better Management of Elections; (iv) Regulation of Political Parties; (v) Audit and Finances of Political Parties; (vi) Review of Anti-Defection Law. The Committee under the aegis of Legislative Department and in co-sponsorship of the Election Commission of India conducted seven regional consultations at Bhopal, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Bengaluru and Guwahati, wherein the stakeholders have been consulted, who inter-alia included leaders and workers of the political parties, legislators, legal luminaries, representatives of NGOs, eminent persons, civil servants (serving and retired), students etc. and views have been gathered.

On the basis of the inputs received in all these consultations, legislative process as may be considered necessary will be initiated by the Government in due course. However, the issue of disqualification of persons with criminal charges pending against them from contesting elections is under active consideration.

The issue of Audit and Finances of Political Parties has been one of the items discussed in the Regional Conferences. However, the matter involves deep study and careful consideration in consultation with the political parties before a decision could be arrived at.

- PIB Features with inputs received from the Ministry of Law & Justice, Govt. of India

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