The Election Commission has told political parties to submit details of all donations that they have received through electoral bonds since the scheme began by November 15.
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.
The poll panel in an order on November 3 said that the information should be furnished in a double-sealed cover – one sealed envelope containing the details of donations received and another sealed envelope enclosing the first one.
Details of each donor, the amount received through such bonds, the bank account to which the amount was credited and the date when this was done need to be submitted.
On November 2, the Supreme Court told the Election Commission to collect data on donations that political parties received through electoral bonds till September 30. The poll panel was asked to submit the data to the Registrar General of the Supreme Court in a sealed cover within two weeks.
On November 2, the Supreme Court also reserved its judgement in response to a batch of pleas challenging the validity of the electoral bonds scheme.
The petitioners argued that anonymous donations to political parties through the scheme promotes corruption and prevents a level playing field between the ruling and the Opposition parties.
However, the Centre told the court that electoral bonds are kept anonymous to protect the donors’ political affiliations since these were part of their private lives. Revealing the names of donors could render the scheme ineffective and could lead to a return to cash-based political funding, the government argued.