12 April 2019
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday declined to impose a stay on the electoral bonds scheme but said that their issue and the lack of transparency was a "weighty" issue and required a detailed hearing to finally settle it.
In an interim direction, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi did not find merit in the government's argument that the court should not interfere in the electoral bond scheme for political funding.
Instead, the apex court took the first step in pulling off the veil of secrecy on the bonds. It directed all political parties to come clean on the contributions received through the bonds and provide full details of all their donors till now.
The parties have been directed by the court to provide all the details before May 30 to the Election Commission.
Refusing the government's arguments not to interfere in its electoral bonds scheme of political funding, the Supreme Court on Friday passed interim directions, directing political parties to make a clean slate of contributions they have received through each bond and provide full details of all their donors.
The bench observed that the lack of transparency in the electoral bonds was a weighty one and this matter required detailed hearing.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the petitioner NGO Association of Democratic Reforms, had told the court that the ruling party had received 95 per cent of the payments through electoral bonds.
The Election Commission on Thursday informed the court that a major share of the contributions were made to the ruling party via electoral bonds.
The court said it do not want to "tilt the balance" in favour of any political party. However, adequate safeguards needed to be taken now.
On Thursday, the government informed the court that voters do not need to know the source of funding to political parties.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the court that it cannot kill the scheme in the name of transparency. He informed the court the scheme was in experimental stage and the court should not intervene.
The Election Commission told the court that it was not in opposition to the bonds, but opposed the anonymity associated with it.
The poll panel told the court that the right to vote meant the right to make an informed choice and the voters should know the source of funding of political parties whose candidates were seeking their vote.
"It is more important to know the principal than the agent," the Election Commission counsel said.
The Attorney General countered this and opposed the Election Commission's view.