SC to consider whether to refer to Constitution bench pleas against Electoral Bond scheme
21 March, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
The Supreme Court set April 11 as the date for hearing arguments on whether to refer a batch of petitions challenging the government’s Electoral Bond programme, which allows for anonymous fun...
The Supreme Court set April 11 as the date for hearing arguments on whether to refer a batch of petitions challenging the government’s Electoral Bond programme, which allows for anonymous funding of political parties.
On April 11, a panel of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha will decide whether to send the Electoral Bonds issue to a five-judge Constitution bench. The Supreme Court issued the directive after the petitioner’s attorney stated that the subject is of Constitutional importance and might have an influence on the country’s democratic politics and political party finance.
“This case should be heard by a constitution bench since this deserves an authoritative pronouncement by the court,” said advocate Shadan Farasat appearing for one of the petitioners.
To this, the bench said, “Then we will hear it on April 11, 2023, to see if it should be referred to the Constitution bench.”
During the hearing senior advocate, Dushyant Dave told the bench that the matter has been pending for a long and asked are we going to wait for the Karnataka elections now so that another tranche of Electoral Bonds is given.
Earlier, advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing NGOs Association for Democratic Reforms and Common Cause – petitioners in the case, had told the apex court that the matter should be referred to a five-judge Constitution bench.
An application was filed earlier relating to the Centre amending the Electoral Bond 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”.
Congress politician Jaya Thakur submitted the fresh motion in the main case, which has been ongoing since 2017.
Jaya Thakur has challenged the Electoral Bond mechanism, which permits political parties to receive anonymous donations.
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 produced particularly to provide cash to political parties.
The Ministry of Finance on November 7, 2022, 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.
The government notified the Electoral Bond Scheme in 2018. The bonds under this scheme are usually made available for purchase by any person for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and October, when specified by the Union government.