BREAKING: SC refuses to stay the sale of electoral bonds

The top court Bench said that there were sufficient safeguards and that it saw no justification for barring the sale


The Supreme Court has refused to stay the sale of electoral bonds ahead of the state elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam, reported LiveLaw.

Rejecting the plea filed by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the court said, “Since the bonds were allowed to be released in 2018 and 2019 without interruption, and sufficient safeguards are there, there is no justification to stay the electoral bonds at present.”

The top court Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde had agreed to hear the matter on March 24. The petitioner organisation, represented by Prashant Bhushan and Neha Rathi, had argued that that the electoral bond scheme increases illegal and illicit funding of political parties.

Prashant Bhushan had also submitted that the Election Commission in May 2018 and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) vide letters on January 31, 2017, September 14, 2017 and September 27, 2017 had objected to electoral bonds and had advised against issuing them as a mode for donation to political parties, as per LiveLaw.

Neha Rathi had also argued before the Supreme Court that the data obtained through RTI shows that illegal sale windows have been opened in the past to benefit certain political parties. She had also submitted that there is a serious apprehension that any further sale of electoral bonds before the upcoming State elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam would further increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies.

ADR’s petition including political party Communist Party of India (Marxist), and NGO Common Cause, had challenged the provisions of Finance Act 2017 which paved the way for anonymous electoral bonds. The Finance Act 2017 introduced amendments in Reserve Bank of India Act, Companies Act, Income Tax Act, Representation of Peoples Act and Foreign Contributions Regulations Act to make way for electoral bonds.

For instance, under the 2017 amendment made to Section 29C of the Representation of Peoples Act 1951 (RPA), political parties were permitted to not report the donations received through electoral bonds to the ECI. The amendment to Section 182 of the Companies Act did away with the restriction that contribution can be made only to the extent of 7.5% of net average profit of three preceding financial years. This enabled even newly incorporated companies to donate via electoral bonds, according to a report in The Wire.

According to The Leaflet, Bhushan argued that electoral bonds is like cash to a political party for a quid pro quo, contending that electoral bonds were anonymous to others but not to the government which would know who the donor was as the State Bank of India (SBI) came under the purview of the Centre. Therefore, he submitted that if the government wished to victimise a donor for donating to opponent parties, it could do so as it would know the identity of the donor.

The order may be read here:


SC to hear plea seeking stay on the sale of electoral bonds on March 24



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