The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India

Not against electoral bonds but against anonymity of donors: EC tells SC

ANI | Updated: Apr 10, 2019 20:52 IST

New Delhi (India), Apr 10 (ANI): The Election Commission of India (EC) on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it was not against the issuance of electoral bonds for the funding of political parties but was against the anonymity of the donors and hence, wanted transparency in the scheme.
“We are not opposed to the Electoral Bonds as such, but we are opposed to the anonymity. We are against anonymity and we want transparency,” senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi appearing for Election Commission told a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which was hearing petitions filed by CPI-M and NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
The petitions challenged the validity of electoral bonds, unlimited corporate funding, and transparency in political funding.
“Right to vote means making an informed choice. Knowing your candidate is only half the exercise. People should know the political parties who fund them. Disclosure is a must in the interest of democracy,” said advocate Diwedi.
Following this, the bench reminded the EC that it had termed the introduction of electoral bond scheme as “retrograde” step in its letter written to the Centre and asked whether the poll panel is changing its stand.
Earlier, the poll panel in an affidavit before the apex court had expressed its reservation about the electoral bonds scheme and said it had conveyed its dissent to anonymous electoral bonds to the Ministry of Law and Justice in 2017 itself and termed it a “retrograde” step, which would have "serious repercussions" on transparency on findings to political parties.
During the hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, argued that either the court should put a stay on the purchase of electoral bonds or the name of the persons who are buying them and giving them to political parties should be disclosed.
Bhushan also contended that unlimited foreign funding and unlimited anonymous funding is opening a floodgate of corruption.
Electoral Bonds scheme is a mockery of transparency as there is no way to know which company is funding which political party, he said.
Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal argued that Electoral Bond scheme intended to curb black money in political funding.
He also justified the anonymity of the donor and said electoral bonds would not show the identity of the donor or the political party receiving the donation.
The arguments in the case will continue on Thursday.
The Centre had earlier filed an affidavit in the case and said Electoral Bonds was a “positive and pioneer step” in the right direction to ensure “accountability and transparency” in conducting elections and that these bonds were introduced to deal with the menace of corruption in elections. (ANI)