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Religious Bodies Registering as Political Parties Background, Symbols

Religious Bodies Registering as Political Parties Background

Religious Bodies Registering as Political Parties: The ECI was asked by the Supreme Court to submit its response to a petition seeking the cancellation of political parties having religious symbols and names. The petition cited names such as the Indian Union Muslim League, the Hindu Ekta Party etc., and argued that such party names and their symbols violated the Constitution and that the EC should cancel their registration.

Reply of ECI

  • No Statutory Provision: The ECI said that there is no express statutory provision under the Representation of Peoples Act (RPA) 1951 which bars the registration of political parties with names having religious connotations.
  • A Bill to amend the RPA, 1951 to ban any association with names bearing religious connotations from registering as a political party was introduced in 1994, but it was not passed and lapsed when the Lok Sabha was dissolved in 1996.
  • No Power to Deregister: The ECI also stated that it doesn’t have the power to deregister political parties, something which it has proposed as an electoral reform to the government many times.
  • Previous Decision: The ECI pointed out that in 2005, it had taken a policy decision to not register political parties that had religious connotations. Since then, the Election Commission has not registered any such political party.
  • Legacy Issue: The ECI said that the names of existing parties have become “legacy names” as they have been in existence for decades and left the matter to the wisdom of the Court.
  • Principle of Secularism: The ECI also noted that the political parties, however, are bound to abide by the principle of secularism as one of the requisites for registration with the EC under the RPA, 1951.

Registration of Political Parties in India

Here is the complete information about the Registration of Political Parties in India given below:

Governed By Registration of Political parties in India is governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951. The registration process has to be in line with the guidelines prescribed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the exercise of the powers conferred by Article 324 of the Constitution of India and the RPA, 1951.
Not Mandatory It is not necessary for every association to get registered by the ECI. Only an association or body of individual citizens of India calling itself a political party and intending to avail itself of the provisions of Part-IV A of the RPA, 1951, (relating to registration of political parties) is required to get itself registered with the ECI.
Conditions for Registration of a Political Party
  • Any party seeking registration has to submit an application to the ECI within a period of 30 days following the date of its formation.
  • It must consist only of Indian citizens.
  • It must call itself a political party set up for the purpose of contesting elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures and for no other purpose.
  • It must have at least 100 registered electors as its members.
  • After a political party has been registered by the ECI, it is its legal duty to keep the ECI duly informed of any change in its name, head office, office-bearers, address, or in any other material matters, like its constitution.
Benefits of Registration with the ECI
  • Registered political parties will get preference in the matter of allotment of free symbols vis-à-vis purely independent candidates.
  • Further, registered political parties, in course of time, can get recognition as `State Party’ or National Party’ subject to the fulfillment of the conditions prescribed by the Commission in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

  • The ECI is not empowered to de-register parties on the grounds of violating the Constitution or breaching the undertaking given to it at the time of registration.
  • A party can only be de-registered on the following conditions:
    • If its registration was obtained by fraud;
    • If it is declared illegal by the Central Government; or
    • If a party amends its internal Constitution and notifies the ECI that it can no longer abide by the Indian Constitution.
Allotment of Symbols
  • The symbols are allotted to political parties by the ECI as per the provisions of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, of 1968.
  • Only parties that are recognized by the ECI can reserve symbols for their own exclusive use. Unrecognized parties can pick from any unreserved or free symbols.

Religious Bodies Registering as Political Parties FAQs

Q. What is political party registration?

Ans. Every association does not have to register with the Election Commission. It is only necessary for an association or group of Indian individuals to register as a political party with the Election Commission of India if they want to use the provisions of Part-IV-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (related to the registration of political parties).

Q. What are registered parties?

Ans. Only when a registered party fulfils one of the three conditions is it recognised as a national party. (i) In the Lok Sabha, the party won 2% of the seats from at least three distinct states. (ii) The party receives 6% of the vote in four or more states during a general election for the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, and it also wins four Lok Sabha seats. (iii) In four states, the party is recognised as a state party.

Q. Who registers and Recognises a political party in India?

Ans. The Election Commission of India (ECI) registers and Recognises a political party in India.

Q. How do I start my own political party?

Ans. To qualify a new political party by petition, no later than 135 days before the primary election or the presidential general election, the Secretary of State must verify if a political body intending to qualify collected petition signatures of registered voters equal to 10% of the votes cast at the most recent gubernatorial election.

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