Electoral Bond Scheme: Controversies & Scrapping

Introduction

The Electoral Bond Scheme, a significant development in India’s political funding landscape, has been a topic of intense debate and scrutiny. Recently, the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap the scheme has reignited discussions about its implications and the broader issue of transparency in political financing. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of the Electoral Bond Scheme, its evolution, its impact, and the controversies surrounding it.

Understanding the Electoral Bond Scheme

The Electoral Bond Scheme, introduced in the 2017 Union Budget, was touted as a measure to enhance transparency in political funding. It allowed individuals and corporate entities to purchase bonds from authorized banks and donate them to political parties, which could then encash the bonds through their registered bank accounts. The scheme was positioned as an alternative to cash donations, with the intention of curbing black money in political financing.

Evolution and Key Provisions of the Scheme

The scheme underwent several amendments, including the removal of the cap on corporate donations and the introduction of promissory notes in denominations ranging from ₹1,000 to ₹1 crore. One of the most contentious aspects of the scheme was the anonymity of the donors, as the identity of the bond purchasers remained known only to the issuing bank. Additionally, only political parties meeting specific eligibility criteria were permitted to receive electoral bonds, further shaping the dynamics of political funding in the country.

Impact and Controversies

The Electoral Bond Scheme sparked a flurry of debates and concerns, with critics highlighting its potential to compromise transparency and accountability in political financing. The lack of disclosure regarding the identity of the donors raised questions about the influence of corporate entities on the political process. Furthermore, the scheme faced legal challenges, with the Supreme Court ultimately ruling that it violated the right to information and could lead to quid pro quo arrangements.

Government’s Affidavit and Opposition’s Concerns

The central government’s stance on the electoral bonds was reflected in its affidavit, where it argued against the general right to know the sources of electoral bonds. This position was met with opposition from various quarters, including political parties, civil society organizations, and concerned individuals, who raised apprehensions about the potential misuse of the scheme and its implications for democratic processes.

The Road to Scrapping the Scheme

The journey of the Electoral Bond Scheme culminated in the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap it, citing concerns about its compatibility with the right to information and the risks of quid pro quo arrangements. The legal battle surrounding the scheme, initiated by multiple petitions and advocacy efforts, underscored the significance of transparency and accountability in political funding.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Electoral Bond Scheme has been a subject of intense scrutiny and legal battles, ultimately leading to its annulment by the Supreme Court. The scheme’s journey, from its inception to its demise, has shed light on the complexities and challenges associated with ensuring transparency and accountability in political financing. As India navigates the post-electoral bond era, the focus on fostering a robust and transparent framework for political funding remains paramount.

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FAQs: Electoral Bond Scheme

Q1: What is the Electoral Bond Scheme, and why was it introduced?

A1: The Electoral Bond Scheme was introduced in 2017 to enhance transparency in political funding. It allowed individuals and corporate entities to purchase bonds from authorized banks and donate them to political parties, which could then encash the bonds through their registered bank accounts. The scheme aimed to curb black money in political financing.

Q2: Who could purchase and receive electoral bonds?

A2: Only Indian citizens or entities incorporated in India could purchase electoral bonds, and only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and those that secured at least one percent of the votes in the last general election to the Lok Sabha or state legislative assembly were eligible to receive electoral bonds.

Q3: Were electoral bonds anonymous?

A3: Yes, electoral bonds were anonymous, as the identity of the bond purchasers remained known only to the issuing bank.

Q4: How did the Electoral Bond Scheme impact political funding?

A4: The scheme raised concerns about the potential misuse of the scheme and its implications for democratic processes. Critics highlighted its potential to compromise transparency and accountability in political financing.

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