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India’s Online Portal to Enhance Political Transparency

Political parties can now submit their financial accounts to the Election Commission online through a new web portal.  This initiative allows for the online filing of Contribution Reports, Audited Annual Accounts, and Election Expenditure Statements by the political parties.

In a letter directed to all political parties, the Election Commission of India (ECI) highlighted that the portal serves two primary objectives. Firstly, it aims to assist political parties in overcoming the challenges associated with physically filing their reports. Secondly, it aims to ensure the timely submission of financial statements in the prescribed and standardised formats.

The online portal includes a feature for sending reminders in the form of messages to the registered mobile numbers and emails of the authorised representatives of political parties, which will ensure that the deadlines for compliance are not missed, keeping the parties informed and accountable.

In addition to the web portal, ECI has provided a comprehensive guiding manual, which includes graphical representations and frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help parties understand the online module and the process of filing reports online.

To provide further assistance and guidance on the online filing process, ECI will organise a hands-on training programme. It is specifically designed for the designated individuals from different political parties who will be responsible for filing financial reports online.

Political parties that do not want to file their financial reports through the online mode will be required to provide a written explanation to the Election Commission. The written communication should state the reasons for not opting for online filing. In such cases, these parties will be allowed to continue filing their reports in hard copy format, along with CDs or pen drives, adhering to the prescribed formats specified by the Commission. The commission will, in turn, publish all such reports online, along with a letter of justification sent by the party for not filing financial statements online.

According to the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, and the transparency guidelines periodically issued by the Election Commission, political parties are obligated to submit these financial statements to the Election Commission or the Chief Electoral Officers of states/union territories. This requirement has been in place for many years, ensuring transparency in party finances.

ECI noted that the availability of online data is expected to improve compliance and transparency. It said that because political parties are in pivotal positions, it is their responsibility to uphold the principles of democratic functioning and transparency in electoral processes, specifically when it comes to financial disclosures.

The portal is a part of the government’s efforts to embrace digital transformation. Over the past few years, it has launched several digital platforms that streamline administrative processes, promote transparency, and provide convenient access to government services. The portals simplify procedures for citizens, businesses, and stakeholders.

Last month, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) launched the NANDI (NOC Approval for New Drug and Inoculation System) portal for regulatory approval processes for assessing and examining veterinary product proposals. It aims to boost growth and innovation by enabling quick and easy coordination between various government departments, institutes, and the industry. The portal has inbuilt features for end-to-end coordination between departments, committees/subcommittees, and applicants.

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