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India
12 Apr 2019

No ban on Electoral Bonds for now: Supreme Court

Supreme Court passes interim order on electoral bonds

Passing an interim order on electoral bonds, the Supreme Court on Friday directed all political parties to give details of their funding in a sealed cover to Election Commission by May 30.

However, the bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, refused a stay on the electoral bonds.

Notably, Attorney General KK Venugopal represented the Centre in the court.

Here's more.

In context

Supreme Court passes interim order on electoral bonds
What are electoral bonds? Here's a brief description

Electoral bonds

What are electoral bonds? Here's a brief description

The Electoral Bond Scheme notified on January 2, 2018, allows a single person or a group of citizens to purchase electoral bonds.

Only political parties registered under Section 29A of Representation of the People Act, 1951, and which secured more than 1% votes in last parliamentary polls, are eligible to receive these bonds.

The bonds can only be encashed through an authorized bank account.

Case

An NGO filed a PIL in Supreme Court

NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) had filed a PIL in the apex court questioning the validity of electoral bonds.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government proposed electoral bonds as an alternative to cash donations and claimed it would promote transparency and curb black money.

However, its critics alleged that electoral bonds flouted the very concept of free polls.

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ADR concluded BJP benefited from electoral bonds

Findings

ADR concluded BJP benefited from electoral bonds

According to reports, ADR went through tax declarations of parties to conclude that funding through electoral bonds was tilted towards national parties.

During 2017-18, Rs. 215 crore was generated through the electoral bond route and BJP walked away with a lion share of Rs. 210 crore, ADR claimed.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan called electoral bonds a "retrograde" step which violated free and fair elections.

Arguments

EC wanted that donors' names should be revealed

In the court, the Election Commission took a different stand than Centre. While the latter wanted to keep donors anonymous, the polling watchdog said revealing the names will promote transparency.

"Anonymity must go. We want transparency. We want reforms. We cannot go one step forward and two steps backward. We want free and fair polls," senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, representing EC, said.

Venugopal asked why voters need political funding's details

Proceedings

Venugopal asked why voters need political funding's details

Defending the Centre in court, Venugopal said voters don't need to know who funded political parties.

"In my opinion, voters have the right to know about their candidates. Why should they know where the money of political parties is coming from," he asked.

But the argument didn't find any takers. CJI Gogoi said anonymity will defeat the purpose of transparency.

Keeping donors anonymous will have wider ramifications: CJI

"If the identity of the purchaser is not known, it will have wider ramifications. Your entire exercise of doing away with black money is negative," CJI Gogoi opined. In response, Venugopal said banks would definitely know the identity of donors.

Verdict

Court said the matter requires a "detailed hearing"

After hearing arguments of all sides, the bench, also including Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, opined that the matter required a detailed hearing. The case was posted for a hearing on "appropriate date".

Separately, the bench asked the Finance Ministry to reduce the window of purchase of electoral bonds from ten to five days in April-May, considering it is election season.

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Most asked questions

Who can purchase electoral bonds?

Who can receive electoral bonds?

What is the biggest argument against electoral bonds?

What did Supreme Court say in its order?

More questions

Who can purchase electoral bonds?

Asked 2019-04-12 12:32:11 by Paridhi Patel

Answered by NewsBytes

An Indian citizen or group of citizens can purchase electoral bonds.

Who can receive electoral bonds?

Asked 2019-04-12 12:32:11 by Rakesh Tambe

Answered by NewsBytes

Political parties who are registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and have received more than one percent votes in last parliamentary polls, can receive electoral bonds.

What is the biggest argument against electoral bonds?

Asked 2019-04-12 12:32:11 by Rishika Balasubramanium

Answered by NewsBytes

Critics of electoral bonds claim it largely helps national parties and since donors are anonymous, it doesn't do much to curb black money.

What did Supreme Court say in its order?

Asked 2019-04-12 12:32:11 by Pari Singh

Answered by NewsBytes

Supreme Court refused to put a stay on electoral bonds but asked parties to submit details of their fundings, in a sealed cover, to EC.

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