17, Apr 2019
Prelims level : Polity and Governance Mains level : GS-II Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations
Why in news?
- The Supreme Court order will not alter the influence of electoral bonds on polls
- The Supreme Court’s interim order asking political parties to disclose, to the Election Commission in sealed covers, details of the donations they have received through anonymous electoral bonds is an inadequate and belated response to the serious concerns raised about the opaque scheme. The scheme, under which one can purchase bonds of various denominations from a designated bank and deposit them in the accounts of any political party, had been challenged in the apex court a year ago
- When the matter was taken up last week, it was considered that the time available was too limited for an in-depth hearing. The only concession given to those concerned about the dangers of anonymous political funding is that the names would be available with the EC, albeit in sealed envelopes, until the court decides if they can be made public.
- There is some concern that a disproportionately large segment of the bonds purchased by corporate donors has gone to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
- This donor anonymity may end if the court decides that the EC should disclose the names at the end of the litigation, but the influence such donations would have had on the electoral outcome would remain undisturbed.
- The court notes in its order that the case gives rise to “weighty issues which have a
- tremendous bearing on the sanctity of the electoral process in the country”.
- The petitioners, the Association for Democratic Reforms, questioned the anonymity-based funding scheme on the grounds that it promotes opacity, opens up the possibility of black money being donated to parties through shell companies and empowers the ruling party, which alone is in a position to identify the donors and, therefore, well placed to discourage donations to other parties. For the last two decades, the Supreme Court has been proactive in empowering voters and in infusing transparency in the system.
- The court must render an early verdict on the legality of the electoral bond scheme
Electoral bond scheme:
- Electoral Bonds may be purchased by only citizen of India. An individual can buy Electoral Bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
- The bonds can only be encashed by an eligible political party only through a bank account with the authorized bank.
- Electoral Bonds are valid for fifteen calendar days from the date of issue.If the Electoral Bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period, no payment is made to any Political Party. The bonds are issued in multiples of 1000, 10000, 1lakh, 10 lakh, 1 crore. The cash donation has been capped at Rs. 2000 and beyond that donations are via electoral bonds.