New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to take up the petitions challenging the electoral bonds scheme on April 11 to examine whether the matter should be heard by a constitution bench.
Advocate Shadan Farasat, representing a petitioner, contended before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud that the aspect in this matter deals with core of the finances of political parties and this issue requires an authoritative pronouncement. Pointing at the questions framed by him for the consideration of the court, Farasat said the court may consider this matter having been heard by a constitution bench. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, also representing one of the petitioners, said, “we will only benefit, if it is a constitution bench. It will not harm anybody. Yes, this issue goes to the core of our democratic existence. Rs 12,000 till now and the largest party gets more than two-third”.
The bench, also comprising justice P.S. Narasimha, asked the Centre’s counsel, whether she is ready to argue on the aspect of referring the matter to a constitution bench. The counsel replied that the Attorney General R. Venkataramani, who was not present in the courtroom during the hearing, would have to argue whether a reference should be made to the constitution bench or not.
After hearing submissions, the top court scheduled the matter for hearing on April 11, to examine whether petitions should be referred to a constitution bench.
In October last year, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that the electoral bonds scheme is an absolutely transparent mode of political funding.
The top court was hearing a batch of petitions led by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), that have challenged the validity of the Centre’s electoral bonds scheme as a source of political funding.
The apex court, in March 2021, declined to entertain two stay applications moved by ADR to stop the sale of the electoral bonds ahead of elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, and Puducherry.
The top court had noted that there was no justification to block sale of electoral bonds over concerns of anonymity in political party funding or apprehensions of their misuse.
In April 2019, the apex court directed all political parties to submit details of receipts of the electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India (EC) in a sealed cover.