Speaking at the Transparency International India’s National Conference here on ‘Combating Corruption’, the Central Information Commission’s officer questioned the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which requires political parties to declare details of only contributions received in excess of Rs 20,000.
“You have a law in this country which says political parties need not disclose donations below Rs 20,000. If a law, instead of facilitating transparency, authorises non-transparency, then how can you expect to reduce the influence of money in elections,” he asked.
“Political corruption is the fountainhead of all corruption in the country.
“I am not against tax exemption to political parties but let me know the extent of exemption you enjoy. Why don’t the political parties disclose donations below Rs 20,000.
“Non-disclosure of political donations below Rs 20,000 will fail any system, including demonetisation,” said the noted legal expert.
Blaming the political parties for “failing the system”, Acharyulu said state funding of elections will be counter-productive unless political parties became transparent.
“Today we are talking about state funding of elections. But without transparency in political parties, such a move will be sheer wastage of public money. You can introduce state funding only subject to the condition that each and every political party will be transparent,” he added.
While hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to ask all BJP MPs and MLAs to submit their bank transaction-details since the November 8 announcement of demonetisation, Acharyulu questioned why the same was not asked to be done by all Members of Parliament.
“It is a very welcome move but why not all the MPs? Why just bank transactions and why not their income tax returns,” he asked.
He also lamented lack of action against elected representatives for perjury and misrepresentation of facts.
“The question is are we really punishing people for dishonesty? Except for sporadic instances, are we punishing people for perjury, for dishonesty? Is there a real check on the facts claimed by the elected members in their election affidavits,” wondered Acharyulu.