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Electoral bonds: What Supreme Court judges said in their landmark judgement

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A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a unanimous verdict on the central government’s electoral bonds scheme.

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a unanimous verdict on the central government’s electoral bonds scheme, striking it down as “unconstitutional”. The bench, headed by chief justice of India DY Chandrachud, and comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, delivered two separate and unanimous verdicts on the pleas challenging the scheme.

The apex court was ruling on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the scheme.

Electoral bonds scheme: What five-judge bench of the SC said

CJI DY Chandrachud: “There are two opinions, one by me and another by Justice Sanjiv Khanna and both arrive at the same conclusion.”

CJI Chandrachud: “Political parties are relevant units in the electoral process. Information about the funding of political parties is essential for electoral choices. Thus, the electoral bonds scheme is a violation of the right to information and Article 19(1)(a).”

CJI Chandrachud: “Financial support to political parties can lead to a quid pro quo arrangement.”

CJI Chandrachud: “The electoral bonds scheme is not the only scheme to curb black money. There are other alternatives.”

CJI Chandrachud: “Not all political contributions are made with the intent to alter public policy. Students, daily wagers, etc. also contribute to it. To not grant an umbrella of privacy to political contributions only because some contributions are made for other purposes is not impermissible.”

CJI Chandrachud: “The right to privacy of political affiliation does not extend to contributions made to influence public policy and applies only to contributions below the threshold.”

CJI Chandrachud: “Amendments to the Income Tax Act provision and Section 29C of the Representation of Peoples Act are declared to be ultra vires. Amendment to the Companies Act is unconstitutional.”

Justice Sanjiv Khanna: “I agree with the judgment of the CJI. I have also applied the principles of proportionality but with slight variation. But the conclusions are the same.”

The Supreme Court issued three directions in the matter:

  1. All the electoral bonds within the 15-day validity period shall be returned by political parties to the purchasers.
  2. The Election Commission of India (ECI) will make all donations public within one week of the receipt of information.
  3. The State Bank of India (SBI) should stop issuing electoral bonds immediately and submit all details to the ECI by March 6.

The electoral bonds scheme, which was notified by the government in 2018, was pitched as an alternative to cash donations given to political parties by individuals or companies. According to the provisions of the scheme, only those political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and which secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes polled in the last elections to the Lok Sabha or a state legislative assembly were eligible to receive electoral bonds.

source by: Hindustan Times News

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