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.