NEW DELHI: Final views of the Election Commission on the electoral bonds will come very soon. Though the EC had expressed its reservations earlier, the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O P Rawat said the commission was preparing the final paper and would reveal it soon.
With the introduction of electoral bonds, individuals, groups of individuals, NGOs, religious and other trusts are permitted to donate without disclosing details. Before the introduction of electoral bonds, political parties had to disclose details of all donors who gave more than ` 20,000.
Talking to The New Indian Express, Rawat said, “The commission has reservations and it expressed them when the Finance Bill was brought in last year. After the electoral bond scheme was notified this year our secretariat studied it and they are preparing the paper for us. Once it comes up, we will say whatever is needed to be said.”
About the EC’s reservations on electoral bonds, Rawat said, “Transparency, provision of non-disclosure, even loss-making or dummy firms can contribute, those vulnerabilities have been pointed out.”
Earlier, the then CEC Nasim Zaidi had said the electoral bonds would hit transparency. In a letter to the Law Ministry, the EC had asked the government to reconsider and modify amendments in the Representation of the People Act which exempt political parties from disclosing donations received through electoral bonds.
Rawat said, “Our finance ministry has been saying that at least some initiative has been taken by the government to have this system in place. The commission is going to take a view only after this comprehensive note comes up to us.”
Recently, the CPI(M) filed a plea in the SC against the government’s decision on issuing electoral bonds. Party’s general secretary Sitaram Yechury approached the apex court pleading that the move to float electoral bonds should be scrapped as it would lead to greater political corruption.
Challenging the constitutionality of the introduction of bonds under the Finance Act, 2017, the plea claimed that statutory sanctions had been given to political parties to receive unlimited donations without recording and revealing the source.
The identities of donees and donors will be kept a secret. The Centre and the EC have been asked by the Supreme Court to respond on this.