NEW DELHI The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear on April 2 a petition to stay the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018, under which bonds are being sold right before the Lok Sabha election.
A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, agreed to examine the plea by the Association for Democratic Reforms, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan, Neha Rathi and Pranav Sachdeva. It pointed out that 95% of the bonds sold so far had been in favour of one political party, that is the ruling party, which are definitely in the form of kickbacks before the elections.
Bhushan submitted that most of the bonds that have been purchased since 2018 have been of the denominations of ?10 lakh and ?1 crore, which indicate that it is not common citizens but corporates that have been purchasing these bonds while enjoying complete anonymity accorded by the scheme.
The application said the bonds were made available for a large number of days in the three months leading to the general election scheduled for April and May. It was expected that parties would receive an enormous amount of corporate funding during April and May, and this would play a critical role in the election.
In an affidavit filed recently, the Centre said the scheme was introduced to promote transparency in donation received by parties. They [the bonds] can be encashed by an eligible party only through their bank accounts with the authorised banks. The bonds do not have the name of the donor or the receiving party, and only carry a unique hidden alphanumeric serial numbers as an in-built security feature, it said.
The government described the scheme, introduced on January 2 last year, as an electoral reform in a country moving towards a cashless-digital economy.