Electoral Reforms In India

Govt. hikes poll expenditure ceiling by 10%


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ceilings on Election expenditure

Mains level: Election expenditure and associated issues

The Law Ministry has increased the ceiling on poll expenditure for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections by 10% following a recommendation by the Election Commission in view of curbs imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Try answering this question:

Q.Ceiling on election expenses ends up being counterproductive and encourages candidates to under-report their expenditure. Critically analyse.

New ceiling on poll expenditure

  • The ceiling on poll expenditure varies across States, with candidates in Assembly elections in bigger States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu now allowed to spend up to ₹30.8 lakhs as against ₹28 lakhs earlier.
  • For a candidate contesting a Lok Sabha poll in these States, the revised ceiling on poll expenditure is now ₹77 lakhs instead of the earlier amount of ₹70 lakhs.
  • Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and a few Union Territories, based on the size of their constituencies and population, have a lower ceiling on poll expenditure.
  • Here while the enhanced ceiling for a Lok Sabha candidate is now ₹59.4 lakhs those contesting an Assembly can spend up to ₹22 lakhs.

How are such ceilings made?

  • Such changes are made by amending the Conduct of Elections Rules.
  • The last time the expenditure ceiling was enhanced was in 2014 just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

What doesn’t account to Election expenditure?

  • The expenditure incurred by leaders of a political party on account of travel by air or by any other means of transport for propagating programme of the political party is not considered to be the election expenditure.
  • Any expenditure which is done for service of the Government and discharge of official duty is also not considered to be election expenditure.

Role of Election Commission

  • The EC imposes limits on campaign expenditure incurred by a candidate and not political parties.
  • However, it does not cover expenses incurred either by a party or the leader of a party for propagating the party’s programme.
  • Also, candidates must mandatorily file a true account of election expenses with the EC.
  • An incorrect account or expenditure beyond the ceiling can attract disqualification for up to three years as per Section 10A of The Representation of the People Act, 1951.

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