Election Commission always in favour of transparency, but must also protect donor privacy: CEC on electoral bonds scheme

In a democracy, there is no scope to hide things, says CEC, calling for an institutional mechanism to control unaccounted donations which takes donors’ privacy into account; ECI has totaliser tech for EVMs

March 16, 2024 10:16 pm | Updated 11:12 pm IST - NEW DELHI

 Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar (Right) with Election Commissioner Gyanesh Kumar addressing the media on General Election at Vigyan Bhawan, in New Delhi on Saturday.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar (Right) with Election Commissioner Gyanesh Kumar addressing the media on General Election at Vigyan Bhawan, in New Delhi on Saturday. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Amid the storm over the scrapping of the electoral bonds scheme and its donor data being made public, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said that the Election Commission of India has always been in favour of transparency, but added that there was a need to ensure that the donors’ privacy is protected.

“As far as electoral bonds are concerned, the Commission has always been in favour of transparency,” Mr. Kumar said, at a press conference to announce the dates of the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

The CEC said that, in a democracy, there was no scope for hiding things; it is all about making everybody know. “’We are all for transparency. This is the first part of the exercise, that it must be known. The country now has to ask and find solutions through an institutional mechanism where the donors’ privacy is also considered,” he said.


The electoral bonds scheme was struck down by the Supreme Court in a landmark verdict on February 15 that termed the scheme “unconstitutional”. The court had also directed the State Bank of India to provide the ECI with all the data related to the scheme’s donors and recipients, so that it could be made public.

On March 14, the ECI uploaded to its website two separate sets of data on the donors who purchased bonds, and the political parties which encashed them.

The Supreme Court, however, has asked the SBI why the unique alphanumeric numbers of each electoral bond was not provided in the data. The case is scheduled to be heard on Monday.

Unaccounted poll funding

On Saturday, the CEC said: “The unaccounted money which is used in the elections... during the elections, we are very particular to control it. But how do we also control the donations in the unaccounted form is something which the entire nation needs to work [out] together... [so that] the donor’s privacy is also protected, so he is not harassed, how the money is channelised, and how it is more and more white.”

He expressed the hope that a better system would evolve.

Totaliser tech for EVMs

On electronic voting machines (EVMs), Mr. Kumar said that the Commission was ready with totaliser technology, which links a number of EVMs and hides booth-wise voting patterns, but said that the time had not yet come to implement the idea.

“But here, people do not have faith in the result of one machine,” Mr. Kumar said. “Let the political system mature itself, the need is to introduce the totaliser. We are ready, the technology is ready, but one has to work in the entire landscape. Let that be matured further,” he said, adding that the poll body was also working on remote voting technology such as those using blockchains.

Taking a dig at criticisms on the functioning of the EVMs, mainly by Opposition parties and some “experts”, the CEC recited a verse which said that the poll authority is often at the receiving end of “unfulfilled desires”.

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