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SC directs political parties to furnish receipts of electoral bonds, donors' identity details to EC

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Friday directed all political parties to furnish receipts of political funding received through electoral bonds and details of identity of donors in a sealed cover to the

In an interim order, the apex court also directed all political parties to provide details of the amount of the bond and account of donors by May 30 to the poll panel.

The apex court said it would examine in detail changes made in Income Tax law, and laws to make them in consonance with the electoral bond scheme and ensure balance does not tilt in favour of any political party.

It also directed the to reduce the window of purchasing electoral bonds from 10 days to five days in April-May and said it would fix a date later for final disposal of the petition filed by an NGO.

The NGO has challenged the validity of the scheme and sought that either the issuance of electoral bonds be stayed or names of donors be made public to ensure transparency in the poll process.

The order was pronounced by a bench comprising and Justices and

The government had notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018 on January 2, 2018.

As per provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of or incorporated or established in

A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.

Only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than one per cent of votes polled in the last to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive electoral bonds.

As per the notification, electoral bonds shall be encashed by an eligible political party only through a account with an authorised

The Centre and the had taken contrary stands in the on Wednesday over political funding with the government wanting to maintain anonymity of donors of electoral bonds and the poll panel batting for revealing names of donors for transparency.

The bench on Thursday had reserved the order, saying if the identity of the purchasers of electoral bonds meant for transparent political funding was not known, then efforts of the government to curtail black money in elections would be "futile".

The Centre, through K K Venugopal, had vehemently supported the scheme saying the purpose behind it is to eliminate the use of black money in elections and asked the court not to interfere with it at this stage and examine whether it has worked or not only after the elections.

However, Prashant Bhushan, appearing for (ADR)', had said the scheme has nothing to do with the effort to curb black money and it opens the means also to donate by remaining anonymous.

During in an earlier hearing, Bhushan had claimed that the party in power was the major beneficiary of the scheme.

The EC, represented by Rakesh Dwivedi, had opposed Centre's submissions and said secrecy allowed in the electoral bonds scheme "legalises anonymity".

The bench had also observed, "If the identity of purchasers of bonds is not known then there will be greater ramification on the Income Tax law and all your (government's) efforts to curtail black money will be futile".

Venugopal had also said the anonymity of donors of electoral bonds is to be maintained for various reasons such as fear of repercussions on a firm or an individual if the other political party or group wins.

The had also said: "Historically, black money is used in elections. This is a reformatory steps. The scheme can be examined after the elections."

In its affidavit, the Centre had said electoral bonds "attempt at bringing greater transparency, ensuring KYC compliance and keeping an audit trail in comparison to the earlier opaque system of cash donations.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, April 12 2019. 12:00 IST
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