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

Modi-Trump show gives India-US ties new dynamism

In the more than 40 hours of stay in India during his two-day visit, US president Donald Trump exhibited his talents as a politician and also a showman with acumen to provide the Indian audience and Americans back home enough opportunity to stay glued to his activities on the Indian soil. Whether it be his

People-to-people relations the real foundation of Indo-US friendship: Modi

On the second and last day of US president Donald Trump’s India visit, prime minister Narendra Modi said the real foundation of Indo-US friendship is people-to-people relations. Trump, meanwhile, sidestepped the contentious issues of the protests against the new citizenship law, telling a joint press

America loves India, America respects India: Trump

America loves India, America respects India, said US president Donald Trump as he and first lady Melania Trump began their short visit of India from Ahmedabad on Monday, welcomed by prime minister Narendra Modi. The US president was in Ahmedabad, in Modi`s home state of Gujarat, to attend th

2020 is crucial for CPSE: Arjun Ram Meghwal

"The year 2020 is going to be a significant year for India and especially for Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), "said the Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State for heavy industries and public enterprises on Wednesday at the 7th PSU Awards and Conference organised by Governance Now on 19th

Vice President springs surprise, speaks in 22 languages

Highlighting the importance of preserving, protecting and promoting Indian languages, the vice president of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu spoke in 22 languages at an event to mark International Mother Language Day in New Delhi. He urged all the citizens to take a pledge to promote mother tongue and also lea

Title Insurance: new product for old issues

Real estate is among the priciest investments around. More so for the common man who has to live with the burden of monthly EMIs. Yet, it is an art to discover the real owner of any property. Government and revenue records, which are easily accessible to the public, are not properly maintained. Individual



Archives

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter