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Electoral bonds damaging democracy, choking opposition funds: ADR

ANI | Updated: Dec 26, 2018 17:23 IST

New Delhi, Dec 26 (ANI): Noting that electoral bonds pose a grave threat to transparency in political fundings, the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) on Wednesday said that they are 'extremely damaging to the Indian democracy'.
"The Finance Minister had said these bonds will be in the nature of a bearer bond, the identity of the donor will be kept anonymous, I am yet to find a dictionary that says transparency and anonymity are the same things, the Electoral Bonds are extremely damaging to the Indian democracy," Jagdeep Chhokar, one of the founding members of the ADR told ANI.
The electoral bonds scheme was introduced by the government with an aim to cleanse the system of funding of political parties in the 2017 Budget.
The introduction of bonds was also followed by certain amendments in the Income Tax Act, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Companies Act, 2013.
"When we read the bill, we found changes were made to four acts- Representation of People Act, the Income Tax Act, the Reserve Bank Act and the Companies Act. All those changes were meant to reduce or eliminate any transparency in political funding," Chhokar said.
He further noted that the coffers of opposition parties will see a dip in donations, and that only ruling party will benefit from it.
ADR in a report this year said that during 2017-18, out of the six national parties, only the BJP declared receiving an income of Rs 210 crore from contribution through electoral bonds.
"For the last year and two, it has been proved that 95% of the electoral bonds have been donated to the ruling party in power. It only means that the electoral bonds don't have the capability to check corruption and it is also chocking the funds to the opposition political parties as all funding is being routed to the ruling regime," he added.
When asked why this scheme hasn't faced any opposition as none of the parties opposes this scheme, Chhokar said, 'This is to happen to whichever party is in power. That is why no political party really opposes the electoral bonds."
The Election Commission (EC) had earlier expressed reservations on the issuance of electoral bonds.
Last year, the top election body had told a parliamentary committee that electoral bonds introduced by the government was a "retrograde" step.
Expressing apprehensions, even former CEC A.K. Joti had said the bonds could not solve all problems pertaining to transparency in political funding.
Electoral Bond is a bearer instrument in the nature of a Promissory Note. The Electoral Bonds have some in-built security features to eliminate chances of forgery or presentation of fake bonds. These include a random serial number invisible to the naked eye. This number is not noted by the State Bank of India (SBI) in any record associated with the buyer or political party depositing a particular electoral bond. It is, thus not linked to any party transaction when the Bank issues a bond to the buyer. (ANI)

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