The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear on March 24 plea of a non-governmental organisation Association For Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking a stay on the sale of fresh electoral bonds ahead of state assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said it heard the matter on Wednesday after advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for the NGO mentioned the matter before the court for urgent hearing.

Mentioning the matter for urgent hearing, Bhushan contended that a new set of electoral bonds is to be issued from April for upcoming elections.

"We need an urgent hearing of the case. We are seeking a stay on the fresh issue of electoral bonds. Two documents from RBI and Election Commission say these bonds are very detrimental to our democracy," Bhushan argued.

The plea of the NGO sought an urgent hearing of the case stating that the sale of fresh electoral bonds should be stopped till the top court decides the three pending petitions challenging the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018 which grants anonymity to donors of political parties.

"There is a serious apprehension that any further sale of Electoral Bonds before the upcoming state elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Assam, would further increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies. Thus, the petitioner seeks a direction that no further opening of the window for the sale of Electoral Bonds is allowed during the pendency of the instant writ petition," the petition stated.

The fresh application is filed in an already pending petition filed by the NGO in 2017, challenging the provisions of Finance Act 2017 which paved the way for anonymous electoral bonds.

The Petitioner-NGO in it is application stated that previously, on two occasions, the government opened a special sale window of electoral bonds right before the State assembly elections, and so far more than Rs 6500 crores worth of Electoral Bonds have been sold with the majority of donations going to the ruling party.

An electoral bond is an instrument in the nature of a promissory note or bearer bond which can be purchased by any individual, company, firm, or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. The bonds are issued specifically for the purpose of contributing funds to political parties.

The electoral bond scheme was notified by the central government on January 2, 2018.

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