The latest order by the Supreme Court may be regarded as a setback for political parties in India as they now have to disclose in detail every donation they receive through electoral bonds to the Elections Commission. It refused a stay on the controversial anonymous bond scheme that had been sought by the not-for-profit Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). The apex court ordered the political parties to furnish all details by May 31.
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“The just and proper interim direction would be to require all political parties who have received donations through electoral bonds to submit to the EC in sealed cover, detailed particulars of the donors as against each bond; the amount of each such bond and the full particulars of the credit received against each bond, namely, the particulars of the bank account to which the amount has been credited and the date of each such credit,” the court said. It also directed the finance ministry to cancel the extra five days of bond issuance introduced by the government for the months of April and May.
Chief Justice Rajan Gogoi said the order was not directed towards any party. The bench, which also comprised of justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, noted that both parties to the dispute, ADR and the government have raised arguments on weighty issues that had tremendous bearing on the sanctity of the electoral process. The anonymity provided to the donor and the recipient political party raised concerns among campaigners over transparency in funding. Critics argued that as the donor’s name is not known, any shell company can make donations and the source from where the money is coming would be difficult to trace. Moreover, the Electoral Commission has also said that it would support the electoral bond scheme only if the donor’s name is revealed.
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Meanwhile, the national political parties, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have welcomed the court order. Both parties said this will help check the use of black money in politics and elections.