Supreme Court refuses stay on electoral bonds
The Supreme Court refused to grant a stay on the sale of electoral bonds, allowing anonymous donations to political parties, but said it would hear the issue at length on April 10. It also asked petitioners who have challenged the electoral bond scheme to file an appropriate application seeking a stay.
Attorney general KK Venugopal said electoral bonds have been allowed to prevent flow of black money into political funding. During a brief hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for the NGO, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), alleged that thousands of crores of rupees were anonymously being given to political parties through electoral bonds and further claimed that 95% of money donated through such bonds went to the BJP.
Venugopal objected to Bhushan’s submission and said he was delivering an election speech. “It’s election time”, CJI Ranjan Gogoi joked.
The Election Commission of India and the Central government have submitted their divergent views on the issue in writing to the court. While the government has justified the bonds, saying it will promote transparency in political funding, the EC has said the changes made in the law would have “serious repercussions”, making election funding opaque, and, further, making Indian elections vulnerable to foreign interference. The Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018, was notified by the government in January 2018.
Earlier this week, the Centre filed an affidavit in the SC defending the bonds. The affidavit said that the bonds are certainly a concrete step in introducing accountability and transparency in the entire election process.