The Association for Democratic Reforms on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court, seeking urgent hearing of its 2017 plea challenging electoral bonds introduced in 2018 for funding political parties, reported PTI.

In its fresh plea seeking to expedite hearing in the case, the Association for Democratic Reforms said that the State Bank of India had been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds just ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections, which kickstarted on Wednesday.

The organisation said that a notification of January 2, 2018, stipulated the sale of electoral bonds in months of January, April, July and October months of each year. But, the sale window was not opened in April and July, but has been done so in October, right before the Bihar elections, it added. Fresh issuance of electoral bonds was authorised between 19 October and 28 October.

Association for Democratic Reforms had earlier moved a similar plea, seeking stay on the scheme ahead of Delhi Assembly polls in January this year. The apex court had refused to grant the interim stay on the scheme and had sought response of the Centre and the Election Commission within two weeks on the interim application filed on January 20. However, no hearing on the plea has been listed since.

Tuesday’s fresh plea stated that since no hearing has taken place in the last nine months, an urgent hearing is required in the view of new developments related to the Bihar polls. It also claimed that the electoral bond scheme has led to corruption and illicit funding.

“The scheme has opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies which can have serious repercussions on the Indian democracy”, the plea read.

The government had notified the electoral bond scheme on January 2, 2018. As per provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. An individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.

Assembly elections in Bihar will be conducted in three phases between October 28 and November 7. The results will be announced on November 10.