Congress welcomes SC verdict on 'corrupt' electoral bonds

The verdict gives us hope that democracy may still survive in India, said spokesperson Pawan Khera
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the scheme was a major source of cronyism
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the scheme was a major source of cronyism

India's main opposition party, Indian National Congress, welcomed Supreme Court's decision to stop the practice of allowing individuals and companies to make anonymous donations to political parties through 'electoral bonds'.

"People may call it a corrupt system, electoral corruption etc.. but this was a scheme directly devised by the prime minister," Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera.

"By bringing a money bill, you assured yourself of money to buy people's representatives, for giving coal licenses, awarding airports, for rewarding your friends," he said, referring to the passing of the electoral bonds provision as part of a money bill in 2018.

Khera said the government went ahead with the scheme despite many officials and functionaries within it expressing their serious reservations on the proposal through file jottings.

"We have new hope that democracy will survive in India," Khera said.

A five-judge Constitution Bench presided by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud struck down the the electoral bonds scheme as unconstitutional, holding that citizens have a right to know where political parties are generating their funds from to make an informed choice when deciding which party to vote for.

It also held that the aim of defeating black money cannot be a justification for curbing such an important right of the citizen.

It asked SBI to disclose all the details of the electoral bonds issued so far and to stop issuing them from now on.

What are Electoral Bonds

Electoral bonds are financial instruments used to donate money to political parties in India.

They allow donations to be made anonymously. The donor's identity is known only to the bank issuing the bond. The political party receiving the donation does not need to disclose the identity.

They can be purchased from specific branches of the State Bank of India in denominations ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 crore. They have a validity of 15 days from issue.

The scheme was introduced by the Indian government in 2018 to "provide transparency" in political funding. Previously large donations were often made in unaccounted cash, also known as black money.

However, the anonymity aspect has raised concerns that money gained through corruption can still enter the political system.

Over 95% of electoral bonds purchased so far have gone to the ruling party, the BJP.

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The New Indian Express