Voters don’t have a right to know source of political party funds: Attorney General to SC

The Supreme Court is hearing petitions against the use of electoral bonds and will pronounce its verdict on Friday.
Voters don’t have a right to know source of political party funds: Attorney General to SC
Voters don’t have a right to know source of political party funds: Attorney General to SC
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The Supreme Court will on Friday pronounce its order on the plea against the use of electoral bonds as a means of funding. The hearing of arguments concluded on Thursday and the court has reserved its order. The order is likely to be pronounced at 10.30 am on Friday.

During the hearing on Thursday, Attorney General of India KK Venugopal, who is representing the central government, submitted to the Supreme Court that voters do not need to know where the funding of political parties comes from. Responding to the petitioner who stated that voters have a right to know, the AG said, “Voters have a right to know what? Voters don’t need to know where the money of political parties comes from.” He added that donors needed to be given privacy.

The Centre told the court that electoral bonds are anonymously given and which bond has gone to which purchaser is something neither the party nor the bank knows.

“We want to know when the bank issues an electoral bond on application by x or y, whether the bank will have details of which bond has been issued to x, and which to y,” the Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, asked AG Venugopal, to which the AG replied in the negative.

“If so, your entire exercise of trying to fight black money becomes futile,” Justice Gogoi said.

In court, the AG stressed on two issues – that electoral bonds were introduced for the elimination of black money, and that it was a matter of policy, and no government can be faulted for trying it out, reported Bar and Bench. “If the government seeks to stem the flow of black money, should court interfere? It is an experiment and should get the support of the court,” the AG said.

The AG also asked the court ‘not to interfere’ for the time being and wait for the General Elections to end. “Once the new government comes to power, it will review the scheme,” the AG submitted in court.

During a recent hearing on the electoral bonds issue in the Supreme Court, the Election Commission had informed the court regarding its opposition to the anonymous electoral bonds and cited its affidavit that had been filed with the Law Ministry in 2017. In the affidavit, the EC termed introduction of electoral bonds as a retrograde step. The poll panel had expressed concern over the non-disclosure of donor identity and clauses that may allow for shell companies and foreign entities to fund and influence Indian political parties and elections.

The petitioners have moved the court seeking either a stay on the scheme or some other transparent alternative for funding of political parties.

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