National Affairs

Electoral Bond Case: Why Only Ruling Party Can Get The Information, Asks SC

The petition challenging the electoral bond scheme is being heard in the Supreme Court. SC has raised big questions during the hearing.

The court said that the ruling parties can take information about the donations of the opposition.

But opposition parties cannot get this information. The Center will ensure that this scheme will not include protection money or quid pro quo transactions. Would it be wrong to say that this scheme will encourage kickback or legalize it?

CJI said that we know that the ruling party gets more donations. This is part of the system and this is also the trend.

CJI Chandrachud has asked questions to the Center on the matter. CJI said that this scheme maintains selective anonymity and selective confidentiality. There is no doubt that the thinking behind this scheme is commendable. It is not completely anonymous or confidential. This is not confidential for SBI.

While hearing the case, the CJI said, “This is not confidential for the law enforcement agency. Therefore, no big donor will ever take the risk of buying electoral bonds.”

On this, SG Tushar Mehta said that if the check is given, it will be revealed to whom. How much money was given to the party? Other parties may get angry with it. In such a situation, corporate donors give cash only and everyone remains happy. Hundreds of crores of rupees are given as cash donations.

Justice BR Gavai asked then how does the donor get exemption in income tax? CJI said that big donors buy small amount of bonds through their official channels. They don’t stick their necks in it. However, the objective of this scheme is to make cash transactions work, provide level playing field for all and eliminate the use of black money. We have no objection to this. But is it being used proportionately and accurately? This is the issue of debate.

Hearing the case, Justice Sanjiv Khanna said, “Due to this selective secrecy, the opposition party will not know who your donors are. But donations to the opposition party The donors can at least be traced by the investigating agencies, so raising questions on your donations is harmful for them.

SG Tushar Mehta said that generally every country is struggling with the use of black money in politics. These issues are being dealt with by each country depending on the circumstances. India is also struggling with this problem. All the governments during their tenure created a system to keep black money away from the electoral process. Arrangements were made for clean money to come in the form of election donations only through the banking system. So that unaccounted money or money of unknown source does not come in electoral or political donations. Many steps were taken from time to time. Among them, this is also of electoral bond. Digitization is also a phase of this, in which money comes only through official and banking processes.

The CJI asked how to know that the person who is buying the bonds is the donor? The buyer may not be the donor. The amount of bond purchase will be visible in the balance sheet of the buyer. But not in the balance sheet of the real donor. It will not even be known in the balance sheet which bond was purchased? It will only reveal how many bonds were purchased.

The CJI asked whether the source of the money invested in purchasing the bonds would also be known? Nor will the donor be known. Where was the money spent i.e. to whom was it given? The answers to these three questions are not known in the scheme.

The constitution bench of five judges has raised questions. Asked questions to the Central Government, said- This scheme is not completely confidential. This plan is selectively confidential. Investigating agencies can take details from SBI. The ruling parties can get information about the donations of the opposition. But opposition parties cannot take this information. The Center will ensure that this scheme does not involve protection money or quid pro quo transactions. Would it be wrong to say that this scheme will encourage or legalize kickbacks?

CJI said that we know that the ruling party gets more donations. This is part of the system. We still feel that big donors will not bother to provide KYC details. We are not stopping the government from bringing a level playing field, a more transparent scheme. It is entirely up to the legislature to do so.

The Solicitor General said that five out of a hundred can misuse it. This cannot be denied. But we have to trust somewhere else. We are not talking about misuse, but about the efficiency of the scheme.

It is noteworthy that the bench of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjeev Khanna, Justice BR Gavai, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra is hearing this case. In the petitions, there has been a demand to cancel the electoral bond scheme, terming it unconstitutional.

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