Supreme Court refuses stay on electoral bonds ahead of polls
The Supreme Court of India today refused to stay the sale of electoral bonds, saying that fresh ones can be issued from April 1, NDTV reported. Electoral bonds, first introduced in January 2018, are monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups can buy and then donate to a political party of their choice. Here are more details on this.
The top court's decision was based on the Election Commission's argument that it approves of electoral bonds because, without it, political parties would deal in hard cash. The election panel, however, assured that it wants to improve transparency in transactions involving such bonds. "We do not see any reason to stay the issuance (of electoral bonds) at this stage," the court said on Friday.
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-governmental organization associated with political and electoral reforms, had approached the court seeking an interim stay on the sale of electoral bonds between April 1 and April 10. The plea argued that the sale of electoral bonds should be stopped until matters concerned with the funding of political parties are sorted out.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the ADR, argued that the sale of electoral bonds is a form of "legalized corruption" that will eventually pave the way for shell companies to offer bribes. He also highlighted the objections raised by the Reserve Bank of India, saying, "The RBI has said that this system of bonds is a type of weapon or medium for financial scams."
The court, however, responded to such doubts saying that it is not only the ruling party that benefits from such transactions. Meanwhile, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who represented the Election Commission in the court, said that the poll panel is not opposed to such bonds per se, but is skeptical about the anonymity aspect of these instruments.
The crucial top court verdict has come right ahead of the Assembly elections in four states and the Union Territory of Puducherry, due to be held between March and April. The election results will be declared on May 2.