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Supreme Court Order on Electoral Bonds

iasparliament
April 17, 2019
4 months
1433
0

Why in news?

The Supreme Court recently ordered the political parties to submit to the Election Commission details of contributions through electoral bonds.

What is the case about?

  • During 2017-18, the BJP earned Rs 200 crore from electoral bonds and the Congress Rs 15 crore.
  • The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) had recently said this based on an analysis of the parties’ tax returns and contribution statements submitted with the Election Commission.
  • No other national party declared any contributions through electoral bonds, according to details released by ADR.
  • Citing lack of transparency, the ADR then challenged the electoral bond scheme in the Supreme Court.
  • It was considered that the time available was too limited for an in-depth hearing.
  • So in its interim order, the Court asked political parties to disclose to the EC in sealed covers, details of the donations they have received through anonymous electoral bonds.

https://images.indianexpress.com/2019/04/capture-10.jpg

What are the concerns raised?

  • The petitioners, the ADR, questioned the anonymity-based funding scheme on the grounds that it promotes opacity.
  • It opens up the possibility of black money being donated to parties through shell companies.
  • It empowers the ruling party which alone is in a position to identify the donors and, therefore, well placed to discourage donations to other parties.

Click here to know more on the concerns.

How effective will the order be?

  • The Supreme Court order will not alter the influence of electoral bonds on the ongoing polls (general elections 2019).
  • Hence the order is a belated response to the serious concerns raised about the opaque electoral bonds scheme.
  • The order, unfortunately, preserves the status quo, and the possible asymmetry in political funding and its effects would stay as it is.
  • The influence such donations would have had on the electoral outcome remain undisturbed.

Why is it welcome though?

  • The only positive thing is that the names would now be available with the EC (but in sealed envelopes) until the court decides if they can be made public.
  • There is a concern that a disproportionately large segment of the bonds purchased by corporate donors has gone to the BJP.
  • This donor anonymity may end if the court decides that the EC should disclose the names at the end of the litigation.
  • The court also notes that the case gives rise to weighty issues which have a significant bearing on the sanctity of the electoral process in the country.

 

Source: The Hindu, Indian Express

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