Editorial: ‘Bond’ & Trust

The Supreme Court has sought response of the Centre and the Election Commission on a plea seeking stay on the electoral bond scheme meant for funding political parties. The top court, however, refused to grant an interim stay on the electoral bond scheme.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant asked the Centre and the Election Commission to file their responses within two weeks to the interim application filed by NGO ‘Association for Democratic Reforms’ for staying the scheme.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, alleged that the scheme is a means for channelising unaccounted black money in favour of the ruing party. Bhushan also referred to a document of the RBI while seeking stay of the scheme. “We will see that. We are listing it after two weeks”, the bench said.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the EC, said all these arguments have already been advanced earlier and sought four weeks time to reply to the plea of the NGO against the scheme.

The government had on 2 January 2018 notified the electoral bond scheme. These bonds could be purchased by any Indian citizen or corporate entity from any State Bank of India branch. However, the anonymity provided to the donor and the recipient political party has raised concerns among campaigners over transparency in political funding.

Critics of the scheme have contended that as the donor’s name is not known, any shell company can donate and the source from where the money is coming would be difficult to trace. The government, which is working towards transparency in various sectors and its multiple departments, should ensure it in this scheme too.

NT Bureau