The court, however, refused to stay the scheme in the middle of national election.
New Delhi: Lifting the veil of anonymity from the government’s controversial political funding scheme, the Supreme Court on Friday directed all parties which have received donations through electoral bonds to submit to the Election Commission details of donors and amount received by May 30. The court, however, refused to stay the scheme in the middle of national election.
Ignoring the Centre’s plea opposing the court’s intervention, a three-judge headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi passed the interim order on petitions filed by Association of Democratic Rights, the CPI(M) and others challenging the validity of these bonds.
The bench, including Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said it will accord an in-depth hearing on April 15 the pleas of an NGO and CPI(M) as they and the Centre and the EC have also raised “weighty issues” having “tremendous bearing on the sanctity of the electoral process”.
“The court has to ensure that any interim arrangement that may be made would not tilt the balance in favour of either of the parties but that the same ensures adequate safeguards against the competing claims of the parties which are yet to be adjudicated,” it said.
The court also directed the finance ministry to reduced the period of donations through such bonds from 55 days to 50 days in a year.
The bench directed political parties to give, in sealed letters, particulars of donations received as against the each bond; the amount of each such bond and the full particulars of the credit received against each bond, namely, the particulars of the bank account to which the amount has been credited and the date of each such credit.
The order said that above details would be furnished forthwith in respect of bonds received by a political party till date.
NGO Association of Democratic Reforms and CPI(M) alleged wrongdoings under the scheme, claiming 95 per cent of payments through bonds till date have been routed to the BJP.
The Election Commission expressed its apprehension that the bonds would lead to increased use of black money for political funding through shell companies.
The poll panel said that its stand is exclusively confined to one of transparency in political funding and not on the merits of the scheme””.
Presenting the Centre’s views, attorney general K.K. Venugopal pleaded that anonymity of donors of electoral bonds is to be maintained for various reasons such as fear of repercussions on a firm or an individual if the other political party or group wins.
The Centre justified the bonds contending that the implementation of the measures will be tested by the results obtained in the course of the ongoing general elections and its success will be known only after the elections are over.
Welcoming the Supreme Court’s direction to all political parties, the Congress said that the party has always maintained that transparency in political funding and governance must be adhered to.
Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi took a swipe at the BJP and said the judgment would bring out the “nexus” between the saffron party and its “suited-booted friends”.
Party leader and Supreme Court lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged that electoral bonds have become a tool of “BJP’s electoral corruption”.
The apex court having will help in drying up all future donations to the BJP, he said.
Keep yourself updated on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 with our round-the-clock coverage -- breaking news, updates, analyses etc all. Happy reading.