The Hindu
New Delhi

Advocate Prashant Bhushan has argued that the electoral bonds scheme has ‘opened the floodgates to unlimited political donations’

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would start hearing from the third week of March petitions challenging the constitutionality of the electoral bonds scheme.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud separated the challenge to the electoral bonds scheme from other petitions seeking a direction to bring political parties within the ambit of the Right to Information Act and those questioning the legality of amendments in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The court said it would fix the petitions to bring political parties under RTI and the FCRA amendments in April.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Association for Democratic Reforms, has argued that the electoral bonds scheme has “opened the floodgates to unlimited political donations”.

Anonymous donations

“The amendments have removed the caps on campaign donations by companies and have legalised anonymous donations. The Finance Act of 2017 has introduced the use of electoral bonds which are exempt from disclosure under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, opening doors to unchecked, unknown funding to political parties,” the petition said.

An RTI response received in January 2023 from the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) shows that electoral bonds were sold from March 2018 to December 2022 in 24 phases at a total cost of ₹10.23 crore to the taxpayer. The expenses include ₹8.33 crore in bank commission and ₹1.90 crore in printing charges. Over 6.7 lakh electoral bonds were printed.

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