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Judiciary

Electoral Bonds,' Supreme Court to begin final hearing on October 31

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      10 October, 2023 06:40 PM      0 Comments
Electoral Bonds Supreme Court to begin final hearing on October 31

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the final hearing upon the validity of the Centre's electoral bonds scheme would begin on October 31.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said it will begin the final hearing on the matter on October 31, and would continue on November 1, if there is a spill over the hearing.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, for NGO ADR, submitted anonymous funding to political parties through the bonds violated right to information of citizens and promoted corruption.

The bench asked, "Does the source of funding take place through banking channels? How does the scheme work? Purchase of an electoral bond happens through a bank transfer or cash?"

Bhushan said the source of the fund is known to the State Bank of India (SBI) and they will not disclose, and the total amount can be from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 crore.

The bench sought to know if the electoral bond is like a bearer bond or it is the bond in person’s name.

The bench asked Bhushan, “What about the money bill issue, are you pressing it here and we do not want to compel you to give it up because that is pending before seven-judge…all seven-judge and nine-judge matters are listed for directions on October 12. Would you like us to hear this, minus the money bill?”

The counsel said, “The court may consider hearing it de hors money bill issue".

Bhushan said that the challenge to the electoral bonds scheme should be decided before the general election scheduled next year. He asked the court to allow petitioners to argue on issues other than money bill.

The court finally fixed the date of hearing as Attorney General R Venkatramani also agreed to it.

On October 14, 2022, the Centre had claimed before the court that the electoral bonds scheme is an absolutely transparent mode of political funding and there was no possibility of black money in it.

NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and others have challenged the validity of the Centre’s electoral bonds scheme introduced on January 2, 2018 as a source of political funding for being opaque.  

On March 27, 2021, the top court had rejected the charge that the scheme was totally opaque, saying the apprehension that foreign corporate houses may buy the bonds and attempt to influence the electoral process in the country, was "misconceived".

It had pointed out that under Clause 3 of the Scheme, the Bonds may be purchased only by a person, who is a citizen of India or a company incorporated or established here. The court had also noted the purchase as well as encashment of the bonds, happening only through banking channels, is always reflected in documents that eventually come to the public domain.

In April, 2019, the top court had directed all the political parties to submit details of the receipt of Electoral Bonds to the Election Commission in a sealed cover.
 



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