Amid outrage, plea in apex court to stay electoral bonds
A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking stay on the implementation of Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018, saying it has opened the floodgates of unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies that can have serious repercussions on democracy in the country.
It said that certain amendments made in Finance Act, 2017 and earlier Finance Act, 2016, both passed as money bills, have opened doors to unlimited political donations, even from foreign companies and thereby legitimising electoral corruption at a huge scale, while at the same time ensuring complete non-transparency in political funding.
“The Finance Act of 2017 had introduced the use of electoral bonds which is exempt from disclosure under the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, opening doors to unchecked, unknown funding to political parties.
“The said amendments have also removed the existing cap of 7.5 per cent of net profit in the last three years on campaign donations by companies and have legalised anonymous donations,” said the plea, filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
It said the use of electoral bonds for political donations is a cause for concern because these bonds are in the nature of bearer bonds and the identity of the donor is kept anonymous.
The plea further said: “Political Parties are not required to disclose the name of the person/entity donating to a party through electoral bonds. Since the bonds are bearer instruments and have to be physically given to the political parties for them to encash, parties will know who is donating to them.
“It is only the general citizens who will not know who is donating to which party. Thus, electoral bonds increase the anonymity of political donations.” The ADR said that it has already filed a PIL on the issue of corruption and subversion of democracy through illicit and foreign funding of political parties and lack of transparency in the accounts of all political parties.