ECI POWER TO DE-REGISTER A PARTY (Syllabus: GS Paper 2– Polity)

News-CRUX-10     17th May 2024        
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Context: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has raised the issue of following Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by political parties and hence the power of the ECO to de-register or de-recognise the parties.

Model Code of Conduct

  • About: It is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India.
  • Scope of the Guidelines: The guidelines encompass various aspects including speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, election manifestos, processions, and candidate conduct.
  • Objective: The primary goal of the MCC is to ensure orderly, transparent, and peaceful campaigning, polling, and counting processes.

Registered Parties and power of ECI to de-register or de-recognise:

  • About: These are political entities officially recognized and authorized by the Election Commission of India (ECI) under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act).
  • Requirements for Registration: To be registered, a political party must submit a copy of its memorandum/constitution to the ECI, declaring allegiance to the Constitution of India and principles such as socialism, secularism, and democracy. 

o It must also uphold the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.

  • Legal Benefits: Registered political parties enjoy several legal benefits, including tax exemption for donations under Section 13A of the Income Tax Act, 1961, the privilege of using a common symbol for contesting general elections to the Lok Sabha/State Assemblies, and the entitlement to designate twenty 'star campaigners' during election campaigns.
  • Number of Registered Parties: According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), there are currently 2,790 active registered political parties in India.
  • Supreme Court Observation: In Indian National Congress versus Institute of Social Welfare & Ors(2002) had held that the ECI does not have power to de-register any political party under the RP Act.

o It may de-register only under exceptional circumstances like registration being obtained by fraud or the political party ceasing to have allegiance to the Constitution or if it is declared unlawful by the Government.

  • ECI and Law Commission’s recommendations: ECI in its memorandum for electoral reforms (2016) has suggested amendment to the law that would empower the ECI to deregister a party.

o The Law Commission in its 255th report (2015) on ‘Electoral reforms’ has also recommended amendments for de-registration of a political party if it fails to contest elections for 10 consecutive years. These recommendations should be implemented. 

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