The Supreme Court of India rejected to stay the Election Bonds (EB) Scheme after 2019 General Elections. The court ordered all parties to provide all the details regarding the donations received by of EBs and the identity of the donors, total amount of donation received, details of payments, bank account details, etc. to the Election Commission of India in a sealed packet.
Further, the bench directed the Finance Ministry to make changes in its recent notification which allows the purchase of EBs for extra 5 days above the stipulated 10 days in January, 10 days in April and additional 30 days are allowed in the election year.
The petition seeks for an immediate stay on the scheme and further stated that the majority of the electoral bonds sold so far are in favour of the ruling political party. In addition, the petitioner stated that bonds purchased since 2018 are of denominations of 10 Lakhs and 1 Crore which shows that corporate bodies are purchasing the bonds enjoying complete anonymity mentioned in the scheme.
The issue of transparency has been raised and it has been noticed that Electoral Bonds impact transparency in political funding. The ECI filed a counter affidavit stating that it had raised the issue of transparency back in May 2017.
According to Section 29C of the Representation of People Act 1951 (RPA), political parties are not bound to report to the ECI about the donations received through EBs. It would not be possible to discover if political parties have taken donations from government agencies and foreign sources, which is prohibited under Section 29B of RPA said the ECI. The ECI wrote a letter stating that the possibilities of shell companies being set up is more for making donations to political parties.
The Attorney General said that the scheme would help in the eradication of black money and EB would ensure and EB would ensure that funding would come through banking channel and therefore there will be a track over black money. Further, the AG pleaded that keeping transparency does not mean that the donor’s identity should be made public.