The Supreme Court has completed the hearing and reserved its verdict in the election donations case.
The court directed the Election Commission to present the details of total donations received by political parties till last September.
Although the Election Commission’s stance on this was somewhat evasive, the court showed strictness regarding this. The decision will come only after these details are available.
However, from the kind of questions that the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court asked the government during the entire hearing and the answers given by the government, it can be inferred that transparency was deliberately disrupted in the matter of election donations.
The Supreme Court heard this case from the perspective of the Right to Equality Act.
Initially the government argued that voters had no right to know about election donations. But this argument could not stand for long in front of this question that the voter can also be a shareholder of the companies and he has every right to know to which political party the company is giving the dividend of his investment.
Similarly, almost all the questions of the court were uncomfortable for the government.
In fact, the provision of bonds was made by changing the law related to election donations, only then it was feared that this would lead to opaqueness in political donations and corporate houses would try to serve their interests through it.
That fact was soon proved. In fact, after the new law, about ninety percent of the amount of political donations has been going to the ruling party.
In this way, inequality was seen among political parties in the matter of donations. Advocates of electoral integrity have always been saying that political parties should be banned from taking election donations from corporate houses or companies, because by giving donations in this way, businessmen can put pressure on the ruling party to take decisions for their benefit. Such donations were being stopped for a long time.
Then a rule was made that companies could donate five percent of their gross profit as election donations.
This limit was later increased to seven and a half percent. But when the law was made to accept donations in the form of bonds, this limit was removed and it became a rule that anyone can donate as much as they want. It is not necessary that the company is running in profit. Even if a foreign company has a branch in India, it can also donate.
The identity of the donor cannot be revealed.
The government’s reasoning behind this law was that it would stop the practice of converting black money into white. But the way a major portion of the total donations have been seen to be received only by the ruling parties, it has deepened the suspicion that the companies might have done this with the desire of getting some benefit from the governments.
However, the Supreme Court has made it clear that transparency in election donations is necessary and voters should have every right to know from where any party is getting donations and in what form it is using them.
Democracy also requires that political parties should not try to raise funds in an opaque manner.