Electoral bonds: All you need to know

Supreme Court in interim order asks parties to share details with poll panel

GN Bureau | April 12, 2019


#Association for Democratic Reforms   #Lok Sabha elections   #political funding   #Arun Jaitley   #electoral bonds   #Supreme Court   #Election Commission  
Illustration: Ashish Asthana
Illustration: Ashish Asthana

A bench headed by chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in interim order on Friday asked all parties to submit receipts of the electoral bonds to the EC in sealed covers, while posting the matter for detailed hearing at an “appropriate date”. The background to the debate:

 
What is the electoral bond scheme?
Political parties are voluntary organisations and not profit-making bodies. They run on donations, which unfortunately are often in cash – in black money. As part of the government’s drive against black money, soon after the demonetization of November 2016, the budget 2017 announced the electoral bond scheme to clamp down on this channel of underground economy. It was notified in the gazette on January 2, 2018.
 
How does the scheme work?
Any individual or organization can buy electoral bonds (of Rs 1,000, Rs, 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore) from the specified branches of the State Bank of India, during ten days at the beginning of every quarter. The bank issues the bonds only after a KYC, establishing the identity of the bond buyer. The buyer can then give the bonds to the political party/parties, which can deposit the same in their bank accounts. The bank accounts are verified by the election commission (EC). The bond works like a promissory note or a bearer bond.
 
How does this curb corruption?
The budget 2017 capped the maximum amount of cash a party can accept in donation to Rs 2,000, promoting payments through cheques, digital platforms and these bonds. The bonds have the full money trail in the bank, though the political party at the receiving end would not know the identity of the donor. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has maintained that the scheme is a step towards transparency.
 
What is the criticism of the scheme?
Civil society activists have argued that, forget transparency, the scheme is actually increases opaqueness – especially for the voter, who has no way to figure out which corporates or interest groups have given how much donation to which political party. Earlier, this was possible as the names of all donors for amounts above Rs 20,000 would be revealed in the statements parties file with the EC. That bit of transparency is gone with the electoral bonds.
 
Is the criticism valid?
While the finance minister has repeatedly spoke of enhanced transparency, in the supreme court the government has admitted otherwise. In opposing the interim plea by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking a stay on the electoral bonds, attorney general KK Venugopal argued in the supreme court that “transparency cannot be the mantra”. He also said, “why should voters know where the money of the political parties is coming from”. 
 

Comments

 

Other News

Maharashtra set to get first Shiv Sainik CM

The conundrum in Maharashtra is moving towards resolution, as the Shiv Sena has secured the support of the ideological opponents, the Congress and the NCP, to form the government, after the BJP, the party with the most seats, failed to muster the numbers. NCP chief Sharad Pawar has taken the

Vanni: In struggle of memory, pictures complement words

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new president of Sri Lanka, won the November elections that were held amid continued polarization in the island nation. As defence secretary, he had led the government’s decisive fight against the LTTE rebels in 2009, in which most of the guerrilla leaders were killed. Thus en

How Sahitya Akademi promotes India lit abroad

Sahitya Akademi, the autonomous organization under the ministry of culture, has been silently promoting Indian literature abroad through a host of activities, including promotion of translations. The Akademi has helped translate much-talked about Bangla novel ‘Herbert’ by Nabarun

Hotel responsible for vehicle in valet parking: supreme court

Once a guest hands over the car keys to the valet, the vehicle is under the hotel’s responsibility, and it will have to compensate any damage to it, the supreme court has ruled. In a judgment under the contract law, a bench of justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi has upheld

Homebuyers have filed 1,821 cases against builders

Amid oversupply, slackening demand and financial troubles, many builders have not been able to deliver homes to buyers, leaving the latter in the lurch. The buyers in turn have taken recourse to filing cases against builders: a total of 1,821 cases under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016 were p

Rajya Sabha looks back and forward on historic occasion

The beginning of its historic 250th session gave the upper house of parliament an opportunity to take stock of its past and its future, the challenges ahead and the ways to meet them. The house on Monday took up a discussion on ‘The Role of Rajya Sabha in Indian Polity and the Way Forw



Archives

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter