The Supreme Court on Friday refused an urgent hearing of a PIL challenging a provision of the Income Tax Act exempting political parties from disclosing the identity of the donors contributing upto Rs 20,000.
Directing the listing of the PIL on January 11, a vacation bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice L Nageswara Rao querried petitioner lawyer ML Sharma about the urgency as the provision has been part of the Income Tax Act since 1961.
As Sharma pressed for an urgent hearing, contending that political parties were taking advantage of demonetisation and large deposits of upto Rs 20,000 were being made in their accounts, the bench said that the law is in operation for last 50 years and what was happening was that only deposits are being made.
Apparently not persuaded by Sharma's plea that political party would withdrew the money so deposited, the bench directed the listing of the matter on January 11, not accepting the plea for a hearing on January 3.
Earlier, a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said that the national parties have declared an amount of Rs 102.2 crore from 1,744 donations of or above Rs 20,000 in 2015-16.
Seven national parties in India received a total of Rs 102.2 crore as donations in fiscal 2015-16, compared to Rs 528.67 crore in the previous year, showing a dip of about 84%, information submitted to the Election Commission by the parties showed.
Of this, Rs 1.45 crore was in cash, which is merely 1.42 per cent of the total amount.
The seven national parties are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Communist Party of India (CPI), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The ruling BJP declared Rs 76.85 crore as donation in the financial year 2015-16, a dip of 82 per cent from financial year 2014-15, when they received Rs 437.35 crore.
Between 2013-14 and 2014-15, the BJP had shown an increase of 137 per cent in its donations.
The Congress got Rs 20.42 crore, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Rs 1.81 crore, Communist Party of India (CPI) Rs 1.58 crore and the Trinamool Congress got Rs 65 lakh.