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Politics India

Foot in the door? SC agrees to hear ADR’s plea seeking stay on disputable electoral bonds scheme

A bench led by the CJI SA Bobde has agreed to hear the plea by ADR in January

Sabrangindia 05 Dec 2019

Electoral Bonds

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it would hear a plea by the NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) that is seeking a stay on the controversial electoral bond scheme, in January.

On behalf of ADR, the plea was filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan who informed the court that around “6,000 crore had been collected under the scheme so far, which is being misused by the party in power”. The contentious electoral bond scheme had earlier been flagged by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Election Commission of India (ECI) as well.

“Not more than half of the political parties have submitted their annual audit report for 2018-19. BJP and INC (Congress), the two largest national parties, are yet to submit their audit reports for 2018-19,” the petition says.

It says the total income through electoral bonds as declared by the parties that have submitted their audit reports for the 2018-19 fiscal amounts to Rs 599.07 crore, which it says is only 23.5 per cent of the total electoral bonds bought that financial year.

“In other words, the two national parties together could have cornered more than 70 per cent,” it asserts.

Going by these calculations, the total worth of the electoral bonds bought in 2018-19 would be about Rs 2,550 crore.

According to The Telegraph, the petition says, “As of November 2019, nearly 76.5 per cent of the electoral bonds purchased during 2018-19 cannot be traced to any specific political party. The delay and non-compliance by political parties defeats the purpose of any such reporting.”

Live Law reported that ADR had filed a writ petition in 2017, challenging the provisions of the Finance Act 2017 which paved the way for anonymous electoral bonds. These bonds were introduced after amendments made by the Finance Act 2017 to the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934, Representation of Peoples Act 1951, Income Tax Act 1961, Companies Act, Income Tax Act and Foreign Contributions Regulations Act.

Earlier this year, the apex court had asked political parties to furnish details of donors, amounts and details of payments made through electoral bonds, to the poll panel. However, most political parties ignored this order and opposed the plea stating that the electoral bonds scheme would ensure ‘transparency and accountability’ in political funding.

Bhushan sought a stay on the scheme stating that it was akin to accepting a bribe, money laundering and just another way to channelize black money. He also asserted in his plea that, it was only the general citizens who wouldn’t know of the details of the donations.

It has been found that the proof of the knowledge of donations is only and only being denied to the public, because the promissory notes carry an alphanumeric code that can be used to track the donation. Hence, the tracking can very well be done by the finance ministry and they will tabulate all information of the donors – including the ones of their bank accounts, transaction and most importantly political preferences.

ADR said that the amendments made to the above mentioned acts, opened doors to funding from foreign companies, thus legalizing anonymous donations.

The complete petition by the ADR may be read below.
 

Concerns by RBI and ECI

Last week, ADR had moved the apex court for an interim stay on the scheme citing reports that the Central Government had gone ahead with the scheme even after objections raised by the RBI and ECI.

The ADR in its plea had stated that the RBI had warned that the scheme had the “potential to increase black money circulation, money laundering, cross-border counterfeiting and forgery.”

The plea had also noted the objections raised by the ECI which, calling for its withdrawal, described the scheme as a “retrograde step as far as transparency of donations is concerned.”

The ECI had also mentioned that the scheme’s implementation opened up the possibility of shell companies being set up for the sole purpose of donations to political parties.

Since the plea on the matter has been ignored twice, Advocate Bhushan filed a fresh plea once more and the bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices Bhushan Gavai and Surya Kant agreed to an early hearing.

No bones have been made by the opposition about how BJP has gained a lion’s share of electoral bond donations. Out of the Rs. 6,000 crore bonds that were sold in 2018 – 19, bonds worth Rs. 4,500 crore went to the BJP. It has also been noted that the BJP arm-wrested the RBI into the sale of expired bonds and not just that, it opened an extra window of the sale of bonds just before the Karnataka elections, which is completely against the rules set by the RBI.

The influx of illegal turned to legal funding, is the only reason the BJP is fighting tooth and nail to continue with electoral bonds. It has up until now been overturning and quashing all guidelines set with regards to the electoral bonds scheme. Whether or not the plea by ADR will be successful is to be seen. But can the BJP answer one question – after wanting to paint itself a saint by propagating transparency and accountability in the election funding process, why is it so scared to reveal the sources of its donations?
 

 

Related:

Electoral bonds: Why the BJP is batting so hard for it
Govt Made SBI Accept Expired Electoral Bonds Sold In Illegal Window
Election Commission reveals Tatas gave Rs 356 crore to the BJP in 2018-19

Yes, its BJP that received maximum corporate donations in 6 years: ADR report
SBI issued electoral bonds worth Rs 3,622 crore in March and April: RTI
Electoral Bonds: SC directs all parties to reveal political funding details to EC

 

Foot in the door? SC agrees to hear ADR’s plea seeking stay on disputable electoral bonds scheme

A bench led by the CJI SA Bobde has agreed to hear the plea by ADR in January

Electoral Bonds

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it would hear a plea by the NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) that is seeking a stay on the controversial electoral bond scheme, in January.

On behalf of ADR, the plea was filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan who informed the court that around “6,000 crore had been collected under the scheme so far, which is being misused by the party in power”. The contentious electoral bond scheme had earlier been flagged by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Election Commission of India (ECI) as well.

“Not more than half of the political parties have submitted their annual audit report for 2018-19. BJP and INC (Congress), the two largest national parties, are yet to submit their audit reports for 2018-19,” the petition says.

It says the total income through electoral bonds as declared by the parties that have submitted their audit reports for the 2018-19 fiscal amounts to Rs 599.07 crore, which it says is only 23.5 per cent of the total electoral bonds bought that financial year.

“In other words, the two national parties together could have cornered more than 70 per cent,” it asserts.

Going by these calculations, the total worth of the electoral bonds bought in 2018-19 would be about Rs 2,550 crore.

According to The Telegraph, the petition says, “As of November 2019, nearly 76.5 per cent of the electoral bonds purchased during 2018-19 cannot be traced to any specific political party. The delay and non-compliance by political parties defeats the purpose of any such reporting.”

Live Law reported that ADR had filed a writ petition in 2017, challenging the provisions of the Finance Act 2017 which paved the way for anonymous electoral bonds. These bonds were introduced after amendments made by the Finance Act 2017 to the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934, Representation of Peoples Act 1951, Income Tax Act 1961, Companies Act, Income Tax Act and Foreign Contributions Regulations Act.

Earlier this year, the apex court had asked political parties to furnish details of donors, amounts and details of payments made through electoral bonds, to the poll panel. However, most political parties ignored this order and opposed the plea stating that the electoral bonds scheme would ensure ‘transparency and accountability’ in political funding.

Bhushan sought a stay on the scheme stating that it was akin to accepting a bribe, money laundering and just another way to channelize black money. He also asserted in his plea that, it was only the general citizens who wouldn’t know of the details of the donations.

It has been found that the proof of the knowledge of donations is only and only being denied to the public, because the promissory notes carry an alphanumeric code that can be used to track the donation. Hence, the tracking can very well be done by the finance ministry and they will tabulate all information of the donors – including the ones of their bank accounts, transaction and most importantly political preferences.

ADR said that the amendments made to the above mentioned acts, opened doors to funding from foreign companies, thus legalizing anonymous donations.

The complete petition by the ADR may be read below.
 

Concerns by RBI and ECI

Last week, ADR had moved the apex court for an interim stay on the scheme citing reports that the Central Government had gone ahead with the scheme even after objections raised by the RBI and ECI.

The ADR in its plea had stated that the RBI had warned that the scheme had the “potential to increase black money circulation, money laundering, cross-border counterfeiting and forgery.”

The plea had also noted the objections raised by the ECI which, calling for its withdrawal, described the scheme as a “retrograde step as far as transparency of donations is concerned.”

The ECI had also mentioned that the scheme’s implementation opened up the possibility of shell companies being set up for the sole purpose of donations to political parties.

Since the plea on the matter has been ignored twice, Advocate Bhushan filed a fresh plea once more and the bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices Bhushan Gavai and Surya Kant agreed to an early hearing.

No bones have been made by the opposition about how BJP has gained a lion’s share of electoral bond donations. Out of the Rs. 6,000 crore bonds that were sold in 2018 – 19, bonds worth Rs. 4,500 crore went to the BJP. It has also been noted that the BJP arm-wrested the RBI into the sale of expired bonds and not just that, it opened an extra window of the sale of bonds just before the Karnataka elections, which is completely against the rules set by the RBI.

The influx of illegal turned to legal funding, is the only reason the BJP is fighting tooth and nail to continue with electoral bonds. It has up until now been overturning and quashing all guidelines set with regards to the electoral bonds scheme. Whether or not the plea by ADR will be successful is to be seen. But can the BJP answer one question – after wanting to paint itself a saint by propagating transparency and accountability in the election funding process, why is it so scared to reveal the sources of its donations?
 

 

Related:

Electoral bonds: Why the BJP is batting so hard for it
Govt Made SBI Accept Expired Electoral Bonds Sold In Illegal Window
Election Commission reveals Tatas gave Rs 356 crore to the BJP in 2018-19

Yes, its BJP that received maximum corporate donations in 6 years: ADR report
SBI issued electoral bonds worth Rs 3,622 crore in March and April: RTI
Electoral Bonds: SC directs all parties to reveal political funding details to EC

 

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