Electoral bonds and removal of cap on corporate funding will have serious impact on transparency in funding of political parties, Election Commission tells the Supreme Court [Read Affidavit]

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]N the backdrop of the scheduled hearing on April 2, 2019 of a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the “electoral bond” scheme, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has today filed an affidavit saying that electoral bonds and removal of the cap on corporate funding would have a serious impact on transparency in the funding of political parties. 

The ECI in its affidavit has submitted that in a situation where contributions received through electoral bonds are not reported, a perusal of the Contribution Reports of the political parties, would not show whether the political party had taken any donation in violation of provisions under Section 29-B of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which prohibits political parties from taking donations from government companies and foreign sources.

“Any donation received by a political party through an electoral bond has been taken out of the ambit of reporting under the Contribution Report as prescribed under Section 29C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951,” the ECI has said.



It also reiterated that it had on May 26, 2017, already informed the Ministry of Law and Justice that certain provisions of the Finance Act, 2017 and the corresponding amendments carried out in the Income Tax Act, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Companies Act, 2013 would have serious repercussions on transparency in the funding of political parties.

The changes made in the Foreign Regulation Contribution Act, 2010 through the Finance Act, 2016 would allow unchecked foreign contribution/funding of political parties in India, which could lead to Indian policies being influenced by foreign companies, the ECI has said.


What are electoral bonds?


An electoral bond is like a Promissory Note, similar to a bank note, that is payable to the bearer on demand and free of interest. It can be purchased by any Indian citizen or a body corporate in India.

An electoral bond may be issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 Lakh and Rs 1 Crore and are available at specified branches of the State Bank of India. A donor can purchase an electoral bond with a KYC-compliant account and can donate the bonds to their party of choice, which can then be cashed through the party’s verified account within 15 days.



Any political party that is registered under Section 29 A of the Representation of People Act, 1951, and has secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes polled in the last elections to the Lok Sabha or legislative assembly will be eligible to receive electoral bonds.

A Public Interest Litigation filed on behalf of the Association of Democratic Reforms on the issue of electoral bonds, unlimited corporate funding and transparency in political funding is slated to be heard on April 02, 2019.



Read the Affidavit




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The Leaflet