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The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the sale of a fresh set of electoral bonds from 1 April, ahead of assembly elections in four states and one Union Territory -- West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and UT of Puducherry.

The apex court said that fresh electoral bonds can be issued from 1 April.

The SC said that since the bonds were allowed to be released in 2018 and 2019 without interruption, and sufficient safeguards are there, there is no justification to stay the electoral bonds at present.

The top court also said that it is not only the ruling party that is always the beneficiary of electoral bonds.

The SC Bench, including CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, dismissed the plea filed by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking stay of electoral bonds ahead of assembly polls.

Appearing for ADR, Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan had argued against electoral bonds saying the instrument had turned into a tool for receiving bribes in the garb of donations for the ruling party. Bhushan also cited the Reserve Bank of India's misgivings about it. "The RBI has said that this system of bonds is a type of weapon or medium for financial scams," he argued.

He added that the bonds were indeed proof of the Cent's real approach to black money as contrasted from its official stance.

The government had earlier told the SC bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, that the bonds would be issued from 1 April to 10 April.

Through its application filed earlier this month, ADR had sought urgent listing of its 2017 writ petition challenging the Electoral Bonds scheme.

The NGO had claimed that there is a serious apprehension that any further sale of electoral bonds before the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry would further "increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies".

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