NGO ADR moves SC for stay on Electoral Bond scheme

The organisation claimed it has opened floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies, having serious repercussions on the Indian democracy. Photo/Reuters

NGO Association for Democratic Reforms on Friday approached the Supreme Court with a plea to stay the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018, contending that it had legitimised corruption at a huge scale, and maintained complete non-transparency in political funding.

The organisation claimed it has opened floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies, having serious repercussions on the Indian democracy.

It relied upon the RTI response received by activists Commodore (Rtd) Lokesh Batra and Anjali Bhardwaj, showing the government went ahead with it despite the RBI's repeated warnings on its potential to increase black money circulation, money laundering, cross-border counterfeiting and forgery. The Law Ministry also expressed its reservations which the Finance Ministry chose to ignore.

It also cited the news report contending the PMO had ordered the special and illegal sale of Electoral Bonds just before state polls and the Finance Ministry broke its own rules to approve the unscheduled and illegal sale of electoral bonds for state assembly elections on two separate occasions.

“The Finance Act of 2017 had introduced the use of electoral bonds, exempt from disclosure under the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, opening doors to unchecked, unknown funding to political parties. The said amendments have also removed the existing cap of 7.5% of net profit in the last three years on campaign donations by companies and have legalised anonymous donations,” the application filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan stated.

Notably, the top court had already admitted a writ petition filed by the ADR against validity of the scheme, for consideration. It had on April 12 directed all the political parties to furnish details of money received through the Electoral Bonds to the Election Commission in sealed envelop.

NGO ADR claims:

*** More than Rs 6,000 crore worth EBs sold in 12 cycles so far

*** Rs 4,444.32 crores worth EBs purchased during 3 phases in general elections

*** Rs 3,355.93 crores sold in the current financial year 2019-20

*** An RTI reply showed no communication or representation ever received from the donors for anonymity

*** BJP earned more than Rs 1,000 crore in 2017-18

*** Only 19 out of 93 political parties gave details in a sealed cover to the EC by May 30

*** No scrutiny prior to redemption of EBs by political parties

*** Carnegie Foundation, an international think tank, published an article how electoral bonds have legitimised opacity

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