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Business News/ News / India/  Centre to Supreme Court: Public has no general right to know about Electoral Bond sources
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Centre to Supreme Court: Public has no general right to know about Electoral Bond sources

Attorney General R Venkataramani in an affidavit told the Supreme Court that “citizens do not possess a general right to know the sources of electoral bonds”

Electoral bonds are being pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties and bring transparency in political funding.Premium
Electoral bonds are being pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties and bring transparency in political funding.

In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on October 29, the central government has addressed pleas challenging the electoral bonds scheme, as per reports by LiveLaw and CNBC-TV18. Attorney General R Venkataramani told the apex court that “citizens do not possess a general right to know the sources of electoral bonds", they reported.

The Centre's affidavit also acknowledged that political parties receive various forms of support, including financial contributions.

Right to Know?

AG Venkataramani emphasized that the "right to know" must be subject to reasonable restrictions and can be exercised for specific ends or purposes, according to CNBC-TV18.

The Centre argued against a “general right to know everything for undefined ends", citing concerns about the broad scope of such a right, it added.

A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court is set to begin hearing the batch of pleas challenging the validity of the electoral bond scheme for political party funding on October 31, PTI had earlier reported.

The bench, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, is scheduled to consider four pleas, including those filed by Congress leader Jaya Thakur and the CPI(M). Other members of the bench include justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, as reported by PTI.

Also Read: Mint Explainer - Demystifying the electoral bonds scheme

Electoral Bonds

Introduced on January 2, 2018, the Electoral Bonds scheme aimed to provide an alternative to cash donations to enhance transparency in political funding.

Under the provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds can be purchased by Indian citizens or entities incorporated in India. Individual citizens can buy electoral bonds, either independently or jointly with others.

Only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and those that secured at least one percent of the votes in the last general election to the Lok Sabha or state legislative assembly are eligible to receive electoral bonds.

According to the notification, eligible political parties can encash electoral bonds only through accounts with authorized banks.

Concerns Arise

On October 10, Prashant Bhushan, representing the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), argued that adjudication is necessary before the electoral bond scheme is used in the 2024 general elections. Bhushan contended that anonymous funding through electoral bonds encourages corruption and violates citizens' right to a corruption-free nation.

It is noteworthy that the Centre and the Election Commission (ECI) had conflicting stances in court regarding political funding. The government aimed to maintain donor anonymity, while the EC advocated for transparency by revealing donor names.

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Published: 30 Oct 2023, 01:17 PM IST
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