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Election Commission orders Congress to file its annual audit report within 30 days

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Election Commission has ordered Congress to file their annual audit report within 30 days. The poll panel wrote a letter to the party in response to Congress’ objection to its transparency guidelines requiring parties to file their annual audit reports with the commission.

As reported by a national daily, the Election Commission wrote to the Congress on June 9 underlining its powers under Article 324(1) of the Constitution to issue instructions to deal with situations not covered by enacted laws and rules, and directed the grand old party to file a copy of its annual audit report for 2013-14 within 30 days of receipt of its letter.

A few days back, EC had suspended the recognition of P.A. Sangma’s National People’s Party for not filing its expenditure statement for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

According to a report by a leading English daily, a senior commission official indicated that the Congress could face a fate similar to National People’s Party in case it failed to abide by its instructions.

Reportedly, 4 national parties and 28 state parties have already submitted their annual audit reports for 2013- 14 and others are expected to do so after recently being reminded for the third time by EC.

Apart from Congress, even BJP is yet to file its audited annual accounts. However unlike Congress, it hasn’t challenged commission’s transparency guidelines.

Congress, reportedly, had sent a letter to EC on May 15 arguing that the party was already filing its annual audit report along with income tax returns. Section 29C of the RP Act only required parties to submit their annual contribution reports in respect of contributions in excess of Rs 20,000, and there was no requirement to furnish an annual audit report.

“The guidelines issued by the commission cannot override statutory provision…such guidelines are not legally enforceable nor can be implemented until and unless amendment is carried out in the principal Act (RP Act),” said the Congress.

In response to this letter, EC referred to a 1978 Supreme Court verdict in M S Gill Vs the Chief Election Commissioner, underlining that Article 324(1) gave EC residuary powers “in the infinite variety of situations that may emerge from time to time in a large democracy as ours”.

Reportedly it also referred to a 2002 judgment of the SC in Union of India Vs ADR, which said that EC’s jurisdiction is wide enough to include all powers necessary for smooth conduct of elections.

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