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SC to hear electoral bond case on April 10

By Indian Mandarins- 07 Apr 2019


The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the plea of advocate Prashant Bhushan to stay the implementation of the electoral bonds scheme even as Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal dismissed Bhushan's appeal as an “election speech”.

“It is election time, Mr. Attorney,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi reacted to Venugopal. Mr. Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Association of Democratic Reforms, said: “thousands of crores are given anonymously by donors to political parties and 95% of the donations are given to the ruling party”.

Chief Justice Gogoi asked Bhushan to bring his allegations on record if he has not done so as yet. “This requires a detailed hearing. We will hear it on Wednesday (April 10),” the Chief Justice said.

A day before, the government countered the ECI’s position that protecting the anonymity of political donors under the electoral bonds scheme was a “retrograde step”.

Electoral bonds scheme allows anonymity to political donors to protect them from “political victimization”, the government has maintained in its rejoinder to the ECI affidavit in the apex court.

The Ministry of Finance described the shroud of secrecy cast around political donors as a product of “well thought-out policy considerations”. It said the earlier system of cash donations had raised a “concern among the donors that, with their identity revealed, there would be competitive pressure from different political parties receiving donation”.

The government had said electoral bonds achieve the twin purposes of greater accountability in political funding as well as the anonymity of the donor.

The ECI had pointed out how donors need not provide their names, address or PAN if they have contributed less than Rs20,000. Now, many political parties are reporting donations less than Rs20,000. The poll body has a hit a wall in its inquiries whether these donations are sourced illegally from government companies or foreign sources.

ECI had also argued that the electoral bonds scheme might have opened the doors for pumping in black money.

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