Thursday 15 February 2024

Supreme Court orders to stop immediately Electoral Bonds an instrument to make payments anonymously to political parties election funds

India's Supreme Court Strikes Down Electoral Bonds in Blow to Modi's BJP

New Delhi, India - In a landmark decision, India's Supreme Court has declared the government's seven-year-old electoral bond scheme "unconstitutional" and ordered an immediate halt to its issuance. The scheme, introduced in 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), allowed anonymous donations to political parties, raising concerns about opacity and potential for "black money" laundering.

Thursday's verdict marks a significant setback for the BJP, which had been the largest beneficiary of the system. Critics had long argued that the bonds, which could be purchased anonymously in denominations of up to $120,000, provided an avenue for illegal donations and undermined transparency in campaign financing.

A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud ruled that the scheme violated the "right to know" enshrined in the Indian constitution, stating, "The anonymity provided under the scheme is antithetical to the core values of our democracy."

The decision was welcomed by transparency advocates and opposition parties. "This is a victory for democracy and a blow to the culture of secrecy surrounding political funding," said Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer representing one of the petitioners.

Jagdeep Chhokar, lead petitioner and founder of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), called the ruling a "big relief" and expressed hope that it would eliminate "political mischief." ADR estimates that over half of all political donations in recent years were made through electoral bonds.

The BJP defended the scheme, arguing it brought transparency to political funding by channeling donations through the banking system. However, the court disagreed, stating that anonymity made it impossible to hold donors accountable and prevent illegal contributions.

The ruling leaves a question mark over the future of campaign finance reform in India. While cash donations remain legal, they offer no tax benefits and attract greater scrutiny. Transparency activists are likely to push for further reforms to ensure greater accountability and public access to information about political funding.

Key points:

  • Supreme Court declares electoral bond scheme unconstitutional.
  • Scheme allowed anonymous donations to political parties.
  • BJP, the scheme's biggest beneficiary, suffers a setback.
  • Critics hail the decision as a victory for democracy and transparency.
  • Ruling raises questions about future of campaign finance reform in India.

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