In light of the modifications in electoral finance laws made in the 2016 and 2017 Union Budgets, this study clarifies legal concepts for the evaluation of electoral reform, examines the evolution of key legal provisions related to political funding, and identifies systemic issues in the field on the basis of India’s unique experiences. To arrive at potential solutions to the issues involved, the study also supplements the Indian experience with a comparative study of foreign jurisdictions.
The report thus argues that electoral finance law must pivot towards transparency, strictly requiring disclosures by candidates, registration and reporting by political parties, and the applicability of the Right to Information Act, 2005 to such parties. It also favours an absolute cap on anonymous donations, the banning of corporate donations, clarification of permissible categories of expenditure, regulation of third party expenditures, and gradual progress towards public funding. To supplement these rules, the study also discusses the bolstering of the enforcement powers of the Election Commission of India.