The Quint

"If it was not because of COVID, I would have heard this. Let us see, we will take this up", CJI Ramana said.

"If it was not because of COVID, I would have heard this. Let us see, we will take this up", Chief Justice NV Ramana said on Tuesday, 5 April, as he agreed to hearing a petition challenging the Electoral Boards Scheme on an urgent mentioning.

Mentioning the petition filed by Association for Democratic Reforms, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), advocate Prashant Bhushan had informed the apex court:

"This matter has not been listed for more than a year. Every two months, fresh tranche of electoral bonds are issued. In fact today, there is a report that a Calcutta based company has paid Rs 40 crores through electoral bonds to stop excise raids."

"This is distorting democracy," Bhushan added, according to LiveLaw.

According to media reports Kolkata-based IBG Agro Industries has said that its board has approved contributions of up to Rs 40 crore to political parties via electoral bonds. In a disclosure to stock exchanges, they also reportedly spoke about “excise related issues being faced by/affecting the company”.

So far, Communist Party of India (Marxist), and NGOs Common Cause and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) are among the petitioners who have challenged the legality of the scheme.

In 2021, however, the then Chief Justice SA Bobde had refused to stay the electoral bonds scheme ahead of assembly elections in five states. This came even after the Election Commission had already filed a counter-affidavit dubbing the scheme a "retrograde step as far as transparency of donations is concerned" and seeking its withdrawal.

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