December 05, 2019

Supreme Court To Hear Plea By Association For Democratic Reforms Challenging Electoral Bond Scheme In January 2020

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


The Supreme Court has agreed to hear in January 2020, a plea by a non-governmental organization (NGO) called Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), seeking a stay on the Electoral Bond Scheme notified by the central government on January 2, 2018.

Appearing for Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), advocate Prashant Bhushan argued before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde that the application puts on record the objections by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other authorities to the Electoral Bonds scheme which were ignored by the central government as revealed by a Right To Information (RTI) query.

Bhushan insisted that around Rs 6,000 crore was collected under the Electoral Bond Scheme, which was red-flagged by the RBI and the Election Commission. As he equated the scheme as akin to accepting a bribe, money laundering and channelization of black money, the court said, “We will see this in January”.

The application emphasized the scheme has opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian and foreign companies, potentially having serious repercussions on the Indian democracy.

The bonds were introduced through the Finance Act of 2017, and are exempt from disclosure under the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, therefore opening doors to unchecked and unknown funding to political parties, the plea said. “These bonds are in the nature of bearer bonds. The identity of the donor is kept anonymous. Political parties are not required to disclose the name of the person or entity donating to a party through electoral bonds,” the plea stated.

In April 2019, the Supreme Court had observed, taking into consideration the submission on lack of transparency in the bonds, that the just and proper interim direction would be to require all the political parties who have received donations through Electoral Bonds to submit to the Election Commission in a sealed cover, “detailed particulars of the donors as against each bond; the amount of each such bond and the full particulars of the credit received against each bond, namely, the particulars of the bank account to which the amount has been credited and the date of each such credit”.

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