EC counters Government on electoral bonds

AgenciesUpdated: Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 12:37 AM IST
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New Delhi: The Election Commission informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it had written to the Centre saying the changes made in several laws relating to political funding will have “serious repercussions” on transparency.

It also said that the changes in the FCRA 2010, will allow unchecked foreign funding of political parties which could lead to Indian policies being influenced by foreign companies. A petition filed by the Association of Democratic Reforms, which had challenged the validity of the scheme of Electoral Bonds, is scheduled to be taken up by the Supreme Court on April 2.

The central government had earlier told the court that electoral bonds will promote transparency and accountability in funding and donations received by political parties. However, the poll body told the apex court that it had informed the law ministry about flaws in the scheme in May 2017 itself.

The petitioner has said amendments carried out in relevant Acts have “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 has claimed that the government’s decision entitles political parties to receive unlimited donations without recording its source. I

t has, therefore, sought striking down of amendments made through the Finance Act, 2017, and the January 2, 2018 notification issued by the Ministry of Finance, whose cumulative effect is that political parties are entitled to receive unlimited donations from individuals and corporations, including loss-making and foreign corporations, without having to record or report the sources of such funding.

The NDA government had announced electoral bonds in the earlier budget, claiming that the scheme would clean up political funding. The move was resisted by opposition parties. The EC had also expressed its reservations initially.

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