The Supreme Court on Friday directed all political parties to submit details of political donations received through the electoral bonds scheme to the Election Commission by May 30, Bar and Bench reported.
The top court asked the parties to submit details of donors, donations received from each donor, and payments received on each bond in a sealed cover to the poll body, ANI reported.
The Supreme Court also directed the Finance Ministry to reduce the window of purchasing electoral bonds from 10 days to five days in April and May, Live Law reported. A bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would examine in detail changes made in the law and ensure that the balance does not tilt in favour of any party.
The court was hearing petitions filed by non-governmental organisation Association for Democratic Reforms and Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury against the use of electoral bonds for political funding.
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.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, on behalf of the Centre, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that voters do not need to know where the money for political parties comes from. The Supreme Court had also rejected the Centre’s appeal to let them continue the electoral bonds scheme till the end of Lok Sabha elections.
The Centre argued that the electoral bonds scheme was introduced to eliminate the use of black money in elections. Venugopal said the government has ensured that identity of those donating funds through electoral bonds is not disclosed.
On Wednesday, the Election Commission had told the top court that it is not opposed to electoral bonds, but to the anonymity of donations. “We are not opposed to the electoral bonds but we are opposed to anonymity, we want full disclosure and transparency,” advocate Rakesh Dwivedi had said.
The petitioners had sought an immediate stay on the scheme, claiming that 95% electoral bonds went to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
We will wait for the final judgement: BJP
The Bharatiya Janata Party said it will comply with the Supreme Court order but will also wait for the final judgement.
“Whatever is the order of the Supreme Court, it has to be complied with and it is always complied with,” BJP spokesperson and Supreme Court lawyer Nalin Kohli told PTI. “As far as issues raised by the government are concerned, they have been placed before the court for its consideration. And we will await the final judgement.”