'Voters have no right to know source of political fund'

SC reserves order on plea to stay its use

The Union Government on Thursday told the Supreme Court the scheme of electoral bond has been introduced as an attempt to stem the tide of black money in political funding.

The government also maintained that the scheme cannot be questioned on the ground of voters' right to know the source of the money or for the sake of transparency.

"Black money is a bane for democracy, now with the electoral bond, a strict regime has been put in place. All those who buy it have to fill the KYC forms and the political parties can redeem it by one bank account only," Attorney General K K Venugopal said before a bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

The disclosure of the names of the donors is limited with it, he said. “We have no policy of state funding of elections. Funds are received from supporters, affluent persons and companies. They all want their political party to win. If their party does not win then they apprehend some repercussions and hence secrecy or anonymity is required," the top law officer maintained.

On the court's query about the transparency in the system, Venugopal said voters have a right to vote and right to know about their candidates. But they do not have a right to know where political parties get their funds from." He added that revealing all the details of donors would violate the right to privacy, including right to political affiliation, declared in the K S Puttaswamy judgement.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the ADR, contended anonymity was still being maintained through the electoral bond, which was prevalent when cash donations were being made to the political parties.

In its submission, the Election Commission said the anonymity attached to the electoral bonds must go.

"This is a step, the government has taken to control use of black money. Definitely, it is not worse than the previous system. How far it will work, only time will tell," the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna said.

The court reserved its order for Friday on a plea by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms and CPI(M) to stay the use of electoral bond or make full disclosure of the names of the donors.

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