The code of conduct monitoring committee of the Election Commission (EC) has recommended legal action against 2,964 candidates and 24 parties for not submitting election expenditure details despite frequent requests.
The EC was recommended to punish such candidates with a fine and scrap the registration of those parties failing to submit their election costs on time. “We repeatedly asked them to come up with expenses but many candidates and parties did not follow the election code. So we have recommended action against them,” said EC Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav.
Yadav, also the head of the code monitoring committee under the EC, said 2,964 of the total 6,125 candidates contesting the Constituent Assembly election under the first-past-the-post system and 24 parties under the proportional representation (PR) system breached the code undermining the Commission’s repeated requests. Of the total 139 parties registered with the EC, 122 had contested under the PR category.
Electoral laws need expenditure details submitted to authorities within 35 days of election results. Despite repeated requests from the EC, only 3,161 FPTP candidates and 98 parties have submitted their poll costs. The EC Board will decide the kind of action against the defaulters.
Election commissioners, on the other hand, doubt the details of the submitted reports. Suspecting made up data, the EC has decided to audit the financial details.
“We found many lapses in the submitted details. Many have handed in unrealistic costs while others have not followed the prescribed standards,” said Commissioner Yadav.
He added that the EC will take action against the parties and candidates if the details are unrealistic or the candidates ignore the ceiling.
The EC Act (2007) mandates the election authority to punish parties for excessive costs. The Act has the right to fine the defulters a sum–the actual election expenditure or the cost ceiling whichever is higher.
The EC had set an expenditure cap of Rs 1 million for a candidate contesting under the FPTP system and Rs 75,000 for those contesting under the PR category. The election body, however, was informed that many wealthy candidates exceeded the ceiling spending millions of rupees in their constituencies.
Constitutionally, the EC is empowered to hold the parties and candidates accountable but powerful politicians and big parties have often got leeway.
The 2011 report of Transparency International titled “Daily Lives and Corruption, Public Opinion in South Asia” named Nepal’s political parties as the most corrupt institution in the country.