SC agrees to hear plea on electoral bonds scheme amendment

14 November, 2022 | Vaishali Sharma

Supreme Court of India Top News

The petition filed by Congress politician Jaya Thakur challenged the electoral bond arrangement, which permits political parties to be funded anonymously.

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a fresh plea filed relating to the Centre amending the electoral bonds scheme to allow their sale for 15 extra days during the “year of general elections to the legislative assembly of States and Union territories with the legislature”.

Senior counsel Anoop George Chaudhary raised the issue before the Supreme Court, claiming that the notice is completely unconstitutional. A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala announced that the petition will be listed for hearing.

The petition filed by Congress politician Jaya Thakur challenged the electoral bond arrangement, which permits political parties to be funded anonymously.

An electoral bond is a promissory note or bearer bond that can be acquired by any individual, corporation, partnership, or association of individuals who are citizens of India or are incorporated or founded in India. The bonds are specifically issued for the purpose of contributing funds to political parties.

The Ministry of Finance on November 7 issued a notification for amending the scheme to provide “an additional period of 15 days” for their sale “in the year of general elections to the Legislative Assembly of States and Union Territories with Legislature”.

“An additional period of fifteen days shall be specified by the central government in the year of general elections to the legislative assembly of states and Union territories with the legislature,” the gazette notification said.

In 2018, the government announced the Electoral Bond Scheme. Electoral bonds may be acquired by a person who is a citizen of India or is incorporated or founded in India, according to the regulations.
The declaration further said that an individual might purchase electoral bonds either alone or in conjunction with other persons.

The bonds under this programme are typically offered for purchase by anybody for 10 days each in the months of January, April, July, and October, as stipulated by the Union government. The original scheme provided for an additional thirty-day period in the year when Lok Sabha elections are held, as specified by the government, while the amendment adds another 15 days.

Several petitions have already been filed before the Supreme Court challenging at least amendments made to various statutes by the Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2016 on the grounds that they have opened the door to unlimited, unchecked funding of political parties.

According to the NGOs Association of Democratic Reforms and Common Cause, the Finance Bill, 2017, which paved the way for the introduction of the electoral bond scheme, was passed as a money bill despite the fact that it was not.