The Hindu
New Delhi

Court wanted to earlier take up a long-pending challenge against the government’s electoral bonds scheme, but the COVID-19 pandemic played spoilsport, says CJI N.V. Ramana

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Tuesday told advocate Prashant Bhushan that the court wanted to take up earlier a long-pending challenge against the government’s electoral bonds scheme, but the COVID-19 pandemic played spoilsport.

Mr. Bhushan, who represents petitioner Association for Democratic Reforms, informed the CJI that the case has been pending for a year without a hearing.

The electoral bonds scheme and amendments in the Finance Act of 2017 allows for “unlimited donations from individuals and foreign companies to political parties without any record of the sources of funding”.

The exchange between the CJI and the senior lawyer happened when the latter made an oral mentioning for early listing of the case for hearing.

“Let us see, we will take up the matter,” the Chief Justice said.

Mr. Bhushan had similarly sought an urgent hearing in October last year.

‘Transparency in funding’

The government has, however, justified the scheme as a bid to promote transparency in funding and donation received by political parties.

“They [bonds] can be encashed by an eligible political party only through their bank accounts with the authorised bank. The bonds do not have the name of the donor or the receiving political party and only carry a unique hidden alphanumeric serial number as an in-built security feature,” the government’s 21-page affidavit had said.

The government had described the scheme as an “electoral reform” in a country moving towards a “cashless-digital economy”.

‘Anonymity legalised’

However, the Election Commission of India had filed an affidavit in 2019, saying the government’s scheme for political funding has legalised anonymity.

Electoral bonds protect the identity of political donors and parties receiving the contributions. Donors who contribute less than ₹20,000 to political parties through purchase of electoral bonds need not provide their identity details such as PAN, etc.

The government had defended the electoral bonds scheme as a measure to eradicate black money in political funding.

© Association for Democratic Reforms
Privacy And Terms Of Use
Donation Payment Method