Just weeks before the general election, the Election Commission told the Supreme Court that the new rules of the government allowing donations and limitless contributions to the political parties will have a “serious impact” on transparency in political funding.
The election body has challenged “electoral bonds” and demanded a ban on cash donations. The rules have “opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies, which can have serious repercussions on the Indian democracy,” it claimed.
The government said that the changes to the law will help to cleanse the political funding. On March 14, the Centre reported the court that electoral bonds were trying to ensure “enhanced accountability” and pushing electoral reforms “to defeat the growing menace of black money”.
As per sources, the bonds can be bought in denominations from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 10 million given to political party and could be exchanged by cash. The top court was told by the election commission that the rule is allowing the political parties to receive donations from foreign companies. It will “allow unchecked foreign funding of political parties in India, which could lead to Indian policies being influenced by foreign companies,” the statement said.
“Political parties are major stakeholders in a democracy and should be accountable to the public,” it added.
The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), one of the petitioners, had said in a document to the court alleging, “The fear with regard to electoral bonds has been proven right in light of the BJP’s annual audit report for 2017-18 according to which the party received the largest chunk of the funds received through electoral bonds. The party has earned more than Rs. 1,000 crore in 2017-18 and is all set to be the maximum gainer of political funding in the last financial year, according to its annual returns submitted to the Election Commission.”
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