Electoral bonds scheme completely transparent: Centre tells SC

Defending the electoral bonds scheme before a bench of Justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that there is no scope for black money in the electoral bonds scheme.
Representative image
Representative image

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that the methodology of the electoral bonds scheme is a "completely transparent" mode of political funding and it is impossible to get black money or unaccounted money.

Defending the electoral bonds scheme before a bench of Justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that there is no scope for black money in the electoral bonds scheme.

Solicitor General said, "Methodology of donation is so transparent, it is impossible to get black money... It is most transparent and to say it strikes at democracy is wrong."

The top court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the provisions of the Finance Act 2017 which paved the way for anonymous electoral bonds.

During the hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for petitioners argued that the case involves issues that strike at the roots of democracy.

Bhushan further pointed out that the Finance Bill, of 2017, which paved the way for the introduction of the electoral bond scheme, was passed as a money bill even though it wasn't.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the petitioners, said that this is a matter that should be heard by a larger bench.

Attorney General R Venkataramani said that there is no pressing urgency and requested the Court to list it in January 2023.

However, Bhushan and Sibal pointed out that there are elections coming up in Gujarat which would be announced today. They objected to AG's suggestion of hearing in January saying that would mean more sale of bonds.

The apex court then listed the case for hearing on December 6.

The various petitions filed were filed in the apex court challenging the provisions of Finance Act 2017 which paved the way for anonymous electoral bonds. Association for Democratic Reforms, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and others had approached the apex court in 2017 challenged the scheme as an "obscure funding system which is unchecked by any authority".

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.

The bonds are issued specifically for the purpose of contributing of funds to political parties. The electoral bond scheme was notified by the central government on January 2, 2018.

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