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November 18, 2023 @ 7:30 am - 11:30 pm


A recent Constitution Bench, led by the Chief Justice of India, has concluded hearings challenging the electoral bonds scheme, sparking discussions on the delicate balance between voters’ right to information and donor confidentiality. The crux of the matter is the dire need for transparency in election funding, reigniting the discourse on state or public funding of elections.

State Funding of Elections

State funding of elections involves the government providing financial support to political parties and candidates using public resources, aiming to reduce reliance on private donations and potential vested interests.


The primary objective is to foster transparency, fairness, and equal opportunities for all participants in the electoral arena.

Types of State Funding

  • Direct Funding: Government provides direct monetary assistance to political parties and candidates for election campaigns.
  • Indirect Funding: Includes subsidized or free media access, tax advantages, complimentary use of public spaces, and provisions for utilities, travel expenses, transport, and security.

Status in India

  • Existing measures include free airtime for national parties during general elections and benefits like security and office space. Indirect funding includes tax exemptions for registered political parties.

Perspectives from Various Commissions

  1. Indrajit Gupta Committee (1998): Advocated state funding for constitutional and public interest reasons, aiming to create a fair playing field.
  2. Law Commission of India (1999): Proposed total state funding with regulatory frameworks for political parties before implementation.
  3. Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008): Recommended partial state funding to curb illegitimate funding and addressed ethics in governance.
  4. National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2001): Did not endorse state funding, aligning with the Law Commission’s emphasis on regulatory frameworks.

Arguments in Favor of State Funding

  • Leveling the Playing Field: Aims to reduce the influence of money, fostering fair competition based on ideas and policies.
  • Reducing Corruption: Potential to decrease reliance on private donations, enhancing transparency and minimizing corrupt practices.
  • Promoting Fair Competition: Prevents certain parties from gaining undue advantages based on financial resources, ensuring fair democratic participation.
  • Strengthening Political Parties: Contributes to financial stability, allowing parties to focus on long-term goals and policy development.

Arguments Against State Funding

  • Burden on Taxpayers: Raises concerns about using public funds for elections, potentially diverting resources from essential public services.
  • Potential for Misuse: Skepticism about the misuse of state funds, emphasizing the need for stringent regulations and accountability.
  • Risk of Dependency: State funding may lead to political parties becoming overly dependent, potentially stifling financial independence and grassroots fundraising.

Challenges in Implementation:

  • Practical challenges include determining eligibility, equitable fund distribution, and effective monitoring mechanisms.

The Way Forward

  • Comprehensive Legal Reforms: Enact and implement reforms to regulate political party finances, election expenditures, and funding sources.
  • Transparency in Political Party Funding: Mandate disclosure of all funding sources, introduce upper limits on donations, and make information accessible to the public.
  • Independent Electoral Oversight: Strengthen the role of independent electoral oversight bodies to monitor and enforce compliance with campaign finance laws.
  • Auditing and Accountability: Establish a robust auditing mechanism, implement whistleblower protections, and leverage technology for transparency.
  • Learn from Best Practices: Study and adopt international best practices in campaign financing and electoral transparency.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Conduct campaigns to educate citizens about the importance of transparent electoral funding.


Embracing transparency in electoral funding fortifies India’s democratic foundations, empowering citizens to make informed choices based on values rather than the undue influence of financial interests.


November 18, 2023
7:30 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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