This report, prepared by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), focuses on donations received by the National Political Parties, above Rs 20,000, during the Financial Year 2015-16, as submitted by the parties to the Election Commission of India (ECI). The National Parties include Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC). It is to be noted that AITC was declared a National Party by the Election Commission of India based on the party being recognised as a State Party of West Bengal, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
Press release in Hindi and the complete report in English are attached below.
The executive summary below lists the key observations drawn from the report:
- Donations above Rs 20,000 to National Parties from all over India (FY 2015-16)
- The total amount of donations above Rs 20,000 received by National Political Parties during FY 2015-16 is calculated from the donations report submitted to the Election Commission annually.
- The total amount of donations above Rs 20,000 declared by the National Parties was Rs. 102.02 crores, from 1744 donations.
- A total of Rs 76.85 crores was declared by BJP from 613 donations while INC declared receiving Rs 20.42 crores from 918 donations. The donations declared by BJP is more than thrice the aggregate declared by the INC, NCP, CPI, CPM and AITC for the same period.
- BSP declared that the party did not receive any donations above Rs 20,000 during FY 2015-16, as it has been declaring for the past 10 years.
- Comparison of donations received by National Parties during FY 2014-15 and FY 2015-16
- The total donations of the National Parties during FY 2015-16 decreased by Rs 528.67 crores, a decrease of 84%, from the previous financial year, 2014-15.
- NCP declared the highest decrease of 98%, from Rs 38.82 crores in FY 2014-15 to Rs 71 lakhs in FY 2015-16 while donations to BJP decreased from Rs 437.35 crores during FY 2014-15 to Rs 76.85 crores during FY 2015-16 (82% decrease).
- It is to be noted that BJP’s donations had increased by 156% between FY 2013-14 and 2014-15 while that of INC had increased by 137% during the same period.
III. Cash donations declared by the National Parties – FY 2015-16
ECI notification dated 29th August, ’14 stated that “…no tax deduction shall be allowed on the contributions made in cash by any person or company to a political party”. This notification was applicable for donations made from FY 2014-15 onwards. Thus, there has been a marked reduction in cash donations to political parties. The National Parties, during FY 2014-15 had declared receiving only Rs 89 lakhs in cash which formed 0.14% of the total donations to the parties, above Rs 20,000.
- Out of the total donations of Rs 102.02 crores declared by the National Parties, Rs 1.45 crores from 112 donations was received in cash during FY 2015-16. This formed 1.42% of the total donations of the parties.
- Maximum donations in cash was declared by INC which collected a total of Rs 1.17 crores from 10 states/ Union Territories followed by CPI with Rs 22.22 lakhs from 12 States/ UTs and BJP with Rs 51,000 from only Bihar.
- Among all the states, donors from Karnataka made the highest donations of Rs 80 lakhs in cash followed by donors from Meghalaya who donated a total of Rs 21.54 lakhs in cash. Both the top donations were made to INC.
- I Donors from Corporates/ business sectors Vs. Individual donors
- 359 donations from corporate/business sectors amounting to Rs 77.28 crores (75.75% of total donations) were made to the National Parties while 1322 individual donors donated Rs 23.41 crores (22.95% of total donations) to the parties during FY 2015-16.
- 283 donations from corporate/business sectors amounting to Rs 67.99 crores were made to BJP while 330 individual donors donated Rs 8.86 crores to the party during FY 2015-16.
- INC received a total of Rs 8.83 crores via 57 donations from corporate/business sectors and Rs 11.24 crores via 859 individual donors during FY 2015-16.
- Incomplete disclosure of information in the donations report
- Of the 7 National Parties, 4 parties, BJP, INC, CPI and NCP had not declared PAN details of 473 donations through which the parties collected a total of Rs 11.68 crores. INC collected Rs 8.11 crores from 318 donations but failed to provide PAN details of donors while BJP collected Rs 2.19 crores from 71 donations without PAN.
- CPM has not adhered with the format specified by the ECI for submission of donations report. The party has not provided details of mode of contributions of any of its 61 donations. Such details include, cheque/ DD number, bank in which it was drawn, date of receipt or if it was a cash donations or bank transfer.
- Similarly, AITC has not provided cheque number, bank on which it was drawn and the date on which the cheque was received/ encashed for any of its 12 donors who contributed a total of Rs 65 lakhs. Thus, without the complete cheque/DD details, it would be a time consuming process to link the donors against their donations and hence trace the money trail.
- CPI has also not declared the details of cheque/ DD/ Bank transfer for a total of 71 donations through which the party received Rs 1.19 crores.
- CPI has not provided the names and PAN number of 13 state secretaries of the party though their contributions amount to Rs 59.68 lakhs. Overall, the party has not provided PAN details for 82 donations received during FY 2015-16 which aggregate to Rs 1.13 crores.
Observations and Recommendations of ADR
- There is still ambiguity in details of donations declared by the National Parties for FY 2015-16.
- During FY 2014-15, in the report submitted by INC, the column for declaring mode of contribution did not contain the Cheque/DD numbers, for 192 donations amounting to Rs 138.98 crores. This formed 98% of total donations above Rs 20,000 to the party.
- Rs 8.11 crores was declared as received by INC during FY 2015-16 from 318 such donors whose PAN details were unavailable. 49% of such funds came from individuals who donated Rs 3.99 cr and 51% from corporate donors who donated Rs 4.12 cr. Such blatant disregard for rules by the political parties should be curbed and donations with incomplete details should not be entitled to the benefit of 100% tax exemptions of the defaulting parties.
- Rs 83.915 lakhs was declared as received by BJP during FY 2014-15 from 20 such donors whose PAN details, Address and Mode of contribution (together) were unavailable. Thus, only names of such donors and the contributed amount was declared by the party. 73% of such funds came from corporates and 27% from individual donors.
- BJP collected Rs 2.19 crores from 71 donations without declaring PAN details in its report submitted for FY 2015-16.
- In the report submitted by CPM for FY 2015-16, the column for declaring mode of contribution is missing from the report, for 61 donations amounting to Rs 1.81 crores. This forms 100% of total donations above Rs 20,000 to the party. Without the cheque/DD details, it would be a time consuming process to link the donors against their donations and hence trace the money trail.
- The Supreme Court gave a judgment on September 13, 2013 declaring that no part of a candidate’s affidavit should be left blank. Similarly, no part of the Form 24A submitted by political parties providing details of donations above Rs 20,000 should be blank.
- Full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI. Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the US and Japan. In none of these countries is it possible for 75% of the source of funds to be unknown, but at present it is so in India.
- The National and Regional Parties should, ideally, lead by example by filing complete and correct statements of donations to the ECI well in time for public scrutiny so as to encourage financial transparency.
- The National and regional political parties must provide all information on their finances under the Right to Information Act. This will go a long way in strengthening political parties, elections and democracy. For more information, please refer to https://goo.gl/o1qFYT
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