New Delhi, November 2 (Language) The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the electoral bond scheme related to donations to political parties should not become a means of ‘quid pro quo’ between the centers of power and the donors. The Court stressed the need to reduce the influence of cash in the electoral process.
Chief Justice D.Y. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chandrachud said the legislature and the executive can evolve a system that does not have “vulnerabilities” in the scheme and is more transparent.
“You can still create a system which balances things proportionately, that’s all,” the bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, during the debate on petitions challenging the validity of electoral bonds. Is.”
The Constitution Bench had started the final hearing on four petitions on October 31. These include petitions by Congress leader Jaya Thakur, Marxist Communist Party (CPI-M) and non-governmental organization ‘Association for Democratic Reforms’ (ADR).
The Constitution bench comprises Justice Sanjeev Khanna, Justice B. R. Gavai, Justice J. B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra were also present. The bench said that as soon as an electoral bond is given to a political party, the party comes to know who has given it.
Mehta said, ‘Yes, that party will come to know. The donor does not want the other party to know about it. He said, ‘We have to make policy on the basis of practicality.’
He said every party knows who its donors are and there is a need for confidentiality regarding the other party.
The bench asked, “If that is so then why is everything not set free?” The court reserved its decision after hearing the arguments for three days.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice expressed the need to consider some points. “First, there is a need to reduce cash in the electoral process,” he said. Second, there is a need to encourage the use of authorized banking channels for that purpose and that is the only way you can reduce cash. Third, to encourage the use of banking channels.
Justice Chandrachud said, “Fourthly, there is a need for transparency and fifthly, this scheme should not become an instrument of ‘quid pro quo’ between centers of power and donors.”
The Chief Justice said that earlier there was a limit on donations made by companies, but now even a company with no ‘turnover’ can donate.
Mehta said the current scheme gives donors the option to make payments in a transparent manner.
When Mehta mentioned the government’s positive approach in dealing with the issue, the bench said, “We need not go into the government’s motive at all.” As a Constitution bench, it is not our job to deal with the objectives of the government.
Attorney General R Venkataramani also gave his arguments in this case.
The bench said, ‘Today we have a framework. We are testing the validity of that framework.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for ADR, one of the petitioners, said in his rejoinder that there is evidence to show that almost all the electoral bonds have gone to the ruling parties either at the Center or in the states.
He said that in view of the upcoming assembly elections in some states, electoral bonds can be issued any time.
The scheme, notified by the government on January 2, 2018, was introduced as an alternative to cash donations to various parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in ‘political funding’.
As per the provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds can be purchased by any citizen of India or any entity incorporated or established in India. Any person can purchase electoral bonds either singly or jointly with other persons.
Only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which have secured at least one per cent of the votes in the last election to the Lok Sabha or State Assembly are eligible to receive electoral bonds.
As per the notification, the electoral bonds will be encashed by the eligible political party only through the account of an authorized bank.
The apex court had in April 2019 refused to stay the electoral bond scheme and had made it clear that it would hear the petitions in-depth as the Center and the Election Commission had raised ‘important issues’ which had implications for the country’s electoral process. There was a ‘widespread impact’ on purity.
Language Suresh Madhav