The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on April 10 a string of petitions challenging the electoral bond scheme. The court has also agreed to consider the prayer for staying the scheme.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi deferred the hearing to a "Non-Miscellaneous Day" observing that it would require some time.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan on Friday contended that ahead of the 2019 General Elections, copious amounts of donations are being made anonymously by way of electoral bonds. "Thousands of crores worth black money is being tendered, 90% of which has gone to the ruling party", he advanced.
Attorney General K. K. Venugopal commented that Bhushan is "making an election speech", to which the Chief Justice quipped, "it is election time". The AG called out the counsel for the petitioner for apparently representing the interests of his political affiliation- "He is doing it for his party...Congress", said the AG. "My party?", asked Bhushan.
The petitions have been filed by political party Communist Party of India (Marxist) and NGOs Common Cause and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which challenge the scheme as "an obscure funding system which is unchecked by any authority".
The petitioners have voiced the apprehension that the amendments to Companies Act 2013 will lead to "private corporate interests taking precedence over the needs and rights of the people of the State in policy considerations."
The Election Commission of India has told the apex court that the 'Electoral Bonds Scheme' has a serious impact on transparency in political funding. The counter-affidavit filed by the ECI reveals that it had expressed concerns way back in May 2017 itself, immediately after the passage of the Finance Act 2017, which had brought in the crucial legislative amendments for laying the foundation for the scheme.
On the contrary, the Centre has said that the scheme of electoral bonds will in fact "promote transparency in funding and donation received by political parties".