The Supreme Court on Friday refused to grant an interim stay on the operation of electoral bonds scheme, PTI reported A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi adjourned the hearing to April 10, saying the matter needed detailed hearing.

The first phase of the Lok Sabha elections is set to begin on April 11.

The Supreme Court also asked Association for Democratic Reforms, a non-governmental organisation, to file an appropriate application seeking a stay. The top court is hearing a batch of petitions questioning the validity of the scheme and seeking a stay on it. The petitioners include the Association for Democratic Reforms and Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who represented the Association of Democratic Reforms, alleged that thousands of crores were being anonymously given to political parties. He claimed that 95% electoral bonds went to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Responding to Bhushan’s claim, Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said the advocate was giving an election speech. Venugopal said the electoral bonds scheme was brought to check the flow of black money into political funding.

The bench said: “It’s election time. We will hear on April 10.”

Electoral bonds are monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups can buy from the State Bank of India and give to a political party, which is then free to redeem them for money. These bonds are anonymous. The scheme was introduced in January 2018.

On Wednesday, the Centre had filed a fresh affidavit before the Supreme Court, saying electoral bonds were a positive step in the right direction to ensure “accountability and transparency” in conducting elections.