NEW DELHI: Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an independent poll watchdog, has alleged that the use of electoral bonds route by Paribartan Electoral Trust to anonymously disburse Rs 3 crore it received from Birla Corporation in 2019-20 is “against the spirit” of the Electoral Trusts Scheme, 2013 and Income Tax Rules, 1962. It is mandatory for trusts to furnish each and every detail about the donor contributing to the trust and to whom the donations have been distributed.
This is the first time that an electoral trust has taken the bonds route to disburse corporate donations to unnamed political parties.
Paribartan Electoral Trust, in its contribution report for 2019-20 furnished to the Election Commission, said “as the distribution (of Rs 3 crore to political parties) was made through electoral bonds, in terms of the electoral bonds scheme, “information with regard to payee is not required to be disclosed”.
TOI spoke to two former chief election commissioners who said while the legal aspect of disbursing of donations by an electoral trust via bonds may need to be examined, “the mode does create an extra layer of anonymity and goes against the spirit of transparency associated with electoral trusts”.
ADR on Wednesday said while the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 facilitates anonymity and unlimited political donations, Electoral Trusts Scheme, 2013 mandates complete disclosure. “If electoral trusts start adopting this precedent of donating through bonds, it is like going back in time… It will be a complete mayhem of unfair practices i.e. total anonymity, unchecked, unlimited funding, free flow of black money circulation, corruption, foreign funding, corporate donations and related conflict of interest,” it claimed.
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