SC to hear plea on electoral bonds scheme amendment on Dec 6

Insight Online News

New Delhi, Nov 22 : Supreme Court on Tuesday in its order, said it will hear on December 6 the plea challenging a recent notification extending the period of sale of electoral bonds by 15 days during years when elections are scheduled to be held for State assemblies and Union Territories with legislature.

A three-judge bench of the Apex Court, led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chadrachud agreed to hear the case on December 6, along with a batch of earlier petitions challenging the electoral bonds scheme itself.

This fresh notification, issued by the Centre, amended the scheme to provide “an additional period of 15 days” for the sale of electoral bonds “in the year of general elections to the legislative assemblies of States and Union Territories with legislature”.

“They (Centre) are issuing notification against the scheme. This notification is wholly illegal,” Anup George Chaudhari, senior lawyer appearing for the petitioner, told the Supreme Court.

An electoral bond is an instrument in the nature of a promissory note or bearer bond which can be purchased by any individual, company, firm or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India.

Electoral bonds were introduced through Finance Act 2017, which in turn amended three other statutes – the RBI Act, the Income Tax Act and the Representation of People Act – for enabling introduction of such bonds.

Various petitions are pending before the top court challenging at least five amendments made to different statutes through Finance Act 2016 and 2017, on the ground that they have opened doors to unlimited, unchecked funding of political parties.

The petitions sought that the money bill route was adopted in order to bypass the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling BJP government does not have a majority.

The petitioners — ADR and Common Cause and Jaya Thakur — had moved the Supreme Court and challenged the Electoral Bond scheme.

They claimed that the consequence of the amendments was that annual contribution reports of political parties to be furnished to the Election Commission of India (ECI) need not mention names and addresses of those persons/ individuals by contributing by way of electoral bonds, thereby killing transparency in political funding.

The Finance Act, 2017 introduced a system of electoral bonds to be issued by any scheduled bank for the purpose of electoral funding.


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