Anonymous donations to political parties through the electoral bonds scheme promote corruption and prevent a level playing field between the ruling and the opposition parties, petitioners challenging the scheme told the Supreme Court on Tuesday, reported Bar and Bench.

Electoral bonds are monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups can buy from a bank and give to a political party, which is then free to redeem them. The entire process is anonymous since no one is required to declare their purchase of these interest-free bonds and political parties do not need to show the source of the money.

The Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre introduced the scheme in January 2018.

A Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud began hearing the case on Tuesday.

Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the non-governmental organisation Association for Democratic Reforms, told the court that the scheme defeats the people’s right to know the source of funding of political parties.“If you had given donations to a political party who in turn gave you some favour, you could be prosecuted for corruption,” he said. “But now, because nobody will come to know as to who has donated, whether you have received some quid pro quo, it is promoting corruption.”

The Centre on Sunday had told the Supreme Court that citizens do not have the right to know the source of funds that political parties receive. Attorney General R Venkataramani argued that there can be no general right to know “anything and everything without being subjected to reasonable restrictions”.