The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking stay on further sale of electoral bonds ahead of assembly elections. This comes less than a day before the first phase of voting goes underway in West Bengal and Assam.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde declined to stay sale of the electoral bonds as sought in the application moved by the NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms.
The Centre had earlier told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, that the bonds would be issued from April 1 to April 10.
The NGO had claimed that there is a serious apprehension that any further sale of electoral bonds before the upcoming assembly elections, including in West Bengal and Assam, would further "increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies".
The Bench had reserved the order in the case on March 24 after hearing arguments from all the parties in the case. During the hearing, the Attorney General of India KK Venugopal assured the Court that funds received through electoral bonds were white money that could only be issued through cheque and demand draft, and for which Know Your Customer (KYC) norms had to be followed.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for ADR had argued that the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has written a letter in which it was stated that the electoral bond scheme was fraught with risk and would impact India's financial system. Bhushan had added that the RBI raised serious objections and said this will facilitate money laundering through shell company. He further pointed out that the Finance Bill, 2017, which paved the way for the introduction of the electoral bond scheme, was passed as a money bill even though it wasn't.