Electoral bonds: ‘Selective anonymity’ undermining scheme - The Tribune India

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Electoral bonds

‘Selective anonymity’ undermining scheme

Electoral bonds


THE Supreme Court has raised the issues of ‘selective confidentiality’ and ‘selective anonymity’ with regard to the electoral bonds scheme, which was notified by the Union government in January 2018 with the avowed aim of cleansing political funding in India. A five-judge Bench, which has heard arguments on a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the scheme, has expressed apprehension that the party in power could obtain information about individuals and entities who have made donations to Opposition parties as the details are available with the State Bank of India and can also be accessed by law enforcement agencies. The government has argued that the donations are kept anonymous to protect the privacy and political affiliation of the donors and prevent their victimisation.

It is ironical that a scheme ostensibly aimed at ensuring transparency in political donations is being dubbed as an opaque instrument that promotes corruption and does not provide a level playing field for all parties. The fact that the government is in a position to access donor information does put the Opposition camp at a disadvantage, undermining the constitutional provision of holding free and fair elections. Moreover, with the ruling party at the Centre being by far the biggest beneficiary of these bonds, the arrangement seems skewed in favour of the powers that be.

The grey areas of the controversial scheme need to be addressed in the run-up to the high-stakes Lok Sabha elections. The CJI has suggested that all donations may be given to the Election Commission of India (ECI), which can then distribute them on an equitable basis. However, it is lamentable that the ECI has not even maintained data on funding received through electoral bonds till date despite an interim order passed by the SC in April 2019. The success or failure of the scheme will depend on whether it can strike a balance between transparency and the need to safeguard the confidentiality of all donors.

#Supreme Court


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