New Delhi: All political parties must submit details of donations received through electoral bonds to the Election Commission in a sealed cover before May 30, the Supreme Court ordered on Friday morning.
A three-justice bench consisting of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjeev Khanna and Justice Deepak Gupta has over the last few days been hearing a handful of pleas that oppose the Narendra Modi government’s electoral bond scheme.
In its interim order today, the court effectively declined to order a temporary ban on electoral bonds, instead indicating that it needs to examine the issue at length later.
“Such issues will require an in-depth hearing,” Gogoi said. “The court has to ensure that any interim arrangement made will not tilt the balance in favour of either parties.”
The final disposal of the matter will consequently be done on an appropriate date, the bench said.
The apex court also ordered that the bonds can only be sold for 10 days in allotted months of January, April, July and October. All extra dates in April and May have been removed.
In its application before the Supreme Court, the Association for Democratic Reforms, a New Delhi-based NGO, had sought a stay on the scheme. The organisation noted that various amendments made with regard to electoral campaign financing had “opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies which can have serious repercussions on the Indian democracy”.
The Modi government on the other hand defended the scheme in the court, arguing that it was a “a pioneering step” to bring poll reforms “ensuring transparency” and “accountability” in political funding. In addition, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had said in court that it is “not a voter’s concern” where political parties’ money comes from.