The Supreme Court has reserved order on a plea seeking a stay of release of fresh set of electoral bonds ahead of the assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
The order was reserved by a bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramaniam. The Election Commission of India opposed the petition seeking a stay on electoral bonds. The poll body said that it is not opposed to electoral bonds, but said that it wants transparency.
The ECI argued that electoral bonds are one step ahead unaccounted cash system. “The issue of transparency can be considered at the final argument stage, and there should be no interim stay,” senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing on behalf of the ECI, said.
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, said highlighted that the objections raised by the RBI and the ECI on sale of anonymous electoral bonds. He said that it is ‘legalised corruption’ and pave the way for shell companies to offer bribes.
The bench expressed concerns over the possible misuse of bonds and asked the Centre to examine it. “If a political party gets Rs 100 crore worth bonds what is the control over the use of these bonds for illegal activities or purposes outside political agenda?” the bench asked.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the Centre, said that after the electoral bonds scheme was launched in 2018, black money in election funding has been kept under check as no cash is collected.
These bonds can be purchased only through cheque or DD, he said.
The Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to the Centre and others to not open any further window for sale of electoral bonds during pendency of a PIL pertaining to funding of political parties.
On January 20 last year, the top court had refused to grant interim stay on the 2018 Electoral Bonds Scheme and sought responses of the Centre and the Election Commission on an interim application by the NGO seeking stay on the scheme.