Supreme Court to hear today petition seeking stay on fresh sale of electoral bonds ahead of Assembly polls

The petition has been filed by Association For Democratic Reforms (ADR). It will be heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.
The petitioner has said that the petition challenging electoral bonds has been pending in the Supreme Court since September 2017.(HT Photo)
The petitioner has said that the petition challenging electoral bonds has been pending in the Supreme Court since September 2017.(HT Photo)
Published on Mar 24, 2021 08:52 AM IST
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By | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hear plea of a non-governmental organisation seeking a stay on the sale of fresh electoral bonds ahead of state assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and the union territory of Puducherry.

The petition has been filed by Association For Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking to stop fresh sale of electoral bonds from April 1 till the top court decides on their validity.

The petition will be heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the ADR, last week mentioned the matter before the bench, which also included justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, for an urgent listing of the case.

The plea of the NGO sought an urgent hearing stating that the sale of fresh electoral bonds should be stopped till the top court decides the three pending petitions challenging the electoral bond scheme 2018 which grants anonymity to donors of political parties.

"There is a serious apprehension that any further sale of Electoral Bonds before the upcoming state elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam, would further increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies. Thus, the petitioner seeks a direction that no further opening of the window for the sale of electoral bonds be allowed during the pendency of the instant writ petition," the petition stated.

The Petitioner-NGO in it is application stated that previously, on two occasions, the government opened a special sale window of electoral bonds right before the State assembly elections, and so far more than 6500 crores worth of electoral bonds have been sold with the majority of donations going to the ruling party.

An electoral bond is an instrument in the nature of a promissory note or bearer bond which can be purchased by any individual, company, firm or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. The bonds are issued specifically for the purpose of contributing of funds to political parties.

In its PIL, the ADR had sought that the amendments carried out to the Finance Act be struck down. This lack of transparency in the accounts of all political parties was cited as the ground by ADR to oppose this scheme. These donations enjoy 100% tax exemption as they need not be reported to the Income Tax department either, the petition added.

The electoral bond scheme was notified by the central government on January 2, 2018.

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Friday, January 28, 2022