Former Chief Election Commissioners, activists welcome Supreme Court judgment on electoral bonds

The Supreme Court annulled the electoral bonds scheme, saying it violates the Constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression as well as the right to information

February 15, 2024 11:13 pm | Updated February 16, 2024 09:15 am IST - New Delhi

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Activists and former Election Commissioners on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court order scrapping electoral bonds as historic and said it was a major step towards bringing transparency in the realm of electoral funding.

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court annulled the electoral bonds scheme on Thursday, saying it violates the Constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression as well as the right to information.

The scheme had been challenged in the top court by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Congress leader Jaya Thakur, and activist Spandan Biswal.

EXPLAINED | Why did the Supreme Court strike down the electoral bonds scheme?

In a statement, the CPI(M) Polit Bureau hailed the judgement as historic. “By this verdict, this unscrupulous scheme designed to finance the ruling party by anonymous corporate donors has been completely scrapped.”

“It is essential now that reforms for political and electoral funding are introduced to ensure transparency, clean funding and a level playing field,” it said.

ADR, which was the chief petitioner, termed the judgement a “landmark”. “The Supreme Court has given a big boost to Indian Democracy, something our freedom struggle fought for,” Prof. Trilochan Sastry, Chairman, Founder Member and Trustee of ADR, said.

Also Read | Anonymity in scheme was ‘selective’, not ‘fool-proof’: Supreme Court

Former Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla said that if the whole electoral bonds scheme had been brought in for transparency, then it had the opposite effect. “The shadow of anonymity was so great that it gave contributors and political parties great advantage. Thus instead of transparency, it had the opposite effect,” he noted.

“Today’s order by the Supreme Court is a very major step towards bringing transparency in the realm of electoral funding. May I add that for almost 25 years, the ECI has sent proposals to the government of the day, to bring light in the area of funding and expenses. I would hope that the apex court might examine these as well,” he added.

Another former CEC, O.P. Rawat said: “This is a welcome judgement. This has addressed all the concerns expressed by the Election Commission back in 2017 when the scheme was brought in as part of the Finance Bill.”

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