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India
02 May 2017

EC unhappy with Electoral Bonds proposition

The Election Commission has expressed reservations about the government's decision to introduce electoral bonds for donations to political parties.

The proposal made by Arun Jaitley during the Budget speech, also included an amendment to the Finance Bill which bars inclusion of earning through bonds from income-tax disclosures.

The EC contended that the proposal would be contrary to efforts to make Indian elections transparent.

In context

Is the government making elections less transparent?
What is the EC's position?

EC

What is the EC's position?

The EC is unhappy with changes to the Representation of People's Act which mandated political parties to file reports disclosing the names of donors and their addresses, for amounts above Rs. 20,000.

By removing bonds from contribution reports, political party funding will become opaque.

The government also did not lower the cash-donation component from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 2000 as the EC requested.

Will electoral bonds reduce transparency?

An EC source said "If it is not part of the contribution report, it will not be part of the report the EC gives to the income-tax department, the corporate affairs ministry or the ministry of home affairs. It will not be made public anywhere."

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Contentions

Other contentions that the EC has

The amendment to section 13(1) of the IT Act makes it mandatory for all donations over Rs. 2000 to be made only through account-payee cheques, demand drafts or RTGS payments. These donations are confidential between the donor and the bank, so no details will be available.

They also removed the cap on corporate donations and reporting after amending the Companies Act.

Corporates shielded from funding disclosure

Condemning the changes to the Companies Act, the EC source said, "The removal of the cap of 7.5% on the contribution means corporate houses will now be able to donate unlimited sums. Worse, this will not be shown in their books."

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