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Business News/ Politics / ‘Great boon for democracy’: Former election commissioner SY Quraishi hails Supreme Court's verdict on electoral bonds
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‘Great boon for democracy’: Former election commissioner SY Quraishi hails Supreme Court's verdict on electoral bonds

Earlier in the day, a five-judge top court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, said the electoral bonds scheme violated the right to information and the freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution.

The Supreme Court of India (File) (HT_PRINT)Premium
The Supreme Court of India (File) (HT_PRINT)

Hours after the Supreme Court struck down the electoral bonds scheme, former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi on Thursday said the decision is a 'great boon for democracy'.

Earlier in the day, a five-judge top court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, said the electoral bonds scheme violates the right to information and the freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution.

Apart from this, the apex court bench also ordered State Bank of India to disclose to the Election Commission the names of the contributors to the six-year-old scheme for political funding.

"This will restore people's faith in democracy. This is the greatest thing that could have happened. This is the most historical judgment that we have received from the Supreme Court in the last five-seven years. It is a great boon for democracy," PTI quoted Quraishi as saying.

ALSO READ: Electoral bonds brought for transparency in poll funding, we respect SC verdict: BJP

"We were all concerned for the last so many years. Everyone who loves democracy was protesting about it. I wrote several articles and spoke to the media many times. And every issue that we raised has been tackled in the judgment," he said.

The former CEC also put out a post on X hailing the Supreme Court for the verdict. "Electoral Bonds declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Three cheers for the SC!" 

The scheme, which was notified by the government on January 2, 2018, was pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in political funding.

Quraishi said making sure that the donations happen through the banking system was fine but "our contention was why should a donation given to a political party be kept a secret?"

"The donor wants secrecy but the public wants transparency. Now why should the donor want secrecy? Because they want to hide the quid pro quo, the benefits they are getting in return, the licence, the contracts, and even the bank loans with which they run away to foreign lands. Is that why they they wanted secrecy?" he asked.

"And the government was trying to uphold the secrecy of donors... the same donors who have been donating for these 70 years. Suddenly there was a need for secrecy. So that has now been done away with. I think it will make our democracy healthy once again," he said.

This is the best thing that could have happened to India's democracy, he asserted.

"The fact that the court has ordered that all the donations received in the last two-three years will be refunded and they will be disclosed to the nation...that will help us know whether there had been any quid pro quo, whether there had been any donor who has been subjected to all kind of questionable pressure. A lot of things will come out of this judgment. In one word, it is a 'historic' judgment," Quraishi said.

Asked how it will affect the upcoming general elections, he said it will have an impact "substantially but not entirely".

"Because in any case political parties have been funded in the past. They will continue to be funded in the future. But this opaque method of funding has been removed and that is the best part of it," he said.

He said what he always demanded was transparency.

"Let people donate to political parties. They have been donating for 70 years, there was no problem. There was no reprisal even if you donated to opposition parties. Nobody has taken any vindictive action.

"Corporates have been donating to all parties contesting in the same elections. The system that was working right for 70 years, the only thing there was that 60-70 percent of donation was supposed to be in cash which was something to be worried about," Quraishi said.

With agency inputs.

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Published: 15 Feb 2024, 06:33 PM IST
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