New bill to regulate election expenditures

Published On: October 29, 2016 01:50 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, Oct 29: Amid concerns that the election campaign expenses are getting exorbitantly high in every successive election, the government has proposed disqualifying candidates from contesting in any election for six years if they are found exceeding the election expenditure ceiling set by the Election Commission (EC).
The EC sets election expense ceiling ahead of each election. The constitutional body had set Rs 1 million ceiling for candidates contesting in the recent Constituent Assembly (CA) election held in November, 2013.
A bill prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the EC has also introduced provisions to further ensure transparency in the political parties' income and expenditure including the amount collected from donations. 

The bill to Amend and Integrate the Election Crime and Punishment Act proposes barring election candidates from collecting donations or spending money for the purpose of the election campaign except through a designated representative or in person. 

Although the EC had set ceiling in the expenses of election campaign even in the past, there were no strict provisions for taking action against the rule violaters. The clause 20 of the newly-introduced bill allows the EC to disqualify any candidate violating the provisions set in the Election Code of Conduct and Election Laws for six years.
The bill set to be forwarded to parliament for deliberations and endorsement also makes it mandatory for both the parties and candidates to submit details of income and expenditure made during the election campaign within 45 days of the election. The bill also bars candidates from taking donations from government, public and non-governmental agencies for the purpose of election campaign.
According to the bill, any individual involved in producing forged documents for voting purpose, violating election code of conduct during the election campaign and exerting undue influence on voters through various measures including money is liable for two years in jail and Rs 100,000 in fine as punishment. Likewise, any non-Nepali found voting in the election will face one year in jail and Rs 50,000 in fine as punishment.
The bill has proposed that if two candidates get equal number of votes then the election court will decide the winner through a lottery. Likewise the bill proposes that any individual or court should respect the right to privacy of any voters about his vote cast.

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