Supreme Court to hear on March 24 plea against sale of electoral bonds

NGO seeks stay on scheme ahead of Assembly elections in key States

Updated - December 02, 2021 10:52 pm IST

Published - March 18, 2021 12:37 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A sample of the electoral bond issued by the SBI. Photo: Special Arrangement

A sample of the electoral bond issued by the SBI. Photo: Special Arrangement

Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde agreed with advocate Prashant Bhushan on Thursday to urgently hear a plea by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms to stay the sale of a new set of electoral bonds on April 1, before Assembly elections in crucial States such as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

Responding to an urgent mentioning made by Mr. Bhushan via video conferencing, Chief Justice Bobde said the matter would require a detailed hearing and posted the case for March 24.


Mr. Bhushan said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Election Commission had both said the sale of electoral bonds had become an avenue for shell corporations and entities to park illicit money and even proceeds of bribes with political parties.

“Every time there is an election, the sale is opened. Every time this happens, we have moved the Supreme Court to stay it,” Mr. Bhushan submitted.

“But hasn’t stay been refused earlier?” Chief Justice Bobde asked.

“Not so, but parties had been asked to submit records in sealed cover... But a proper stay has to be considered. There are two documents from the RBI and the Election Commission that say the electoral bonds scheme is detrimental to democracy,” Mr. Bhushan replied.


Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Chief Justice that Attorney General K.K. Venugopal would be appearing in the case.

“His submissions in the Maratha quota case will start today [March 18] and he may finish it by Wednesday [March 24],” Mr. Mehta said.

“Surely, he will find time in a matter like this!” Chief Justice Bobde retorted.

NGO’s arguments

The NGO, also represented by advocate Neha Rathi, has voiced serious apprehensions that the sale of electoral bonds before elections in poll-bound States would “further increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies”.

Its application reminded the court that both the central bank and the poll panel had objected to the electoral bond scheme.

Comment | Ensuring trust in the electoral process

“Data obtained through RTI has shown that illegal sale windows have been opened in the past to benefit certain political parties... There is a serious apprehension that any further sale of electoral bonds before the upcoming State elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam would further increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies,” the NGO submitted.

It said the scheme had “opened doors to unlimited political donations, even from foreign companies, thereby legitimising electoral corruption at a huge scale, while at the same time ensuring complete non-transparency in political funding”.

Govt.’s view

The government notified the scheme on January 2, 2018. It defended the scheme in court, saying it allowed anonymity to political donors to protect them from “political victimisation”.

The Ministry of Finance’s affidavit in the top court had dismissed the Election Commission’s version that the invisibility afforded to benefactors was a “retrogade step” and would wreck transparency in political funding.

The government affidavit had said the shroud of secrecy was a product of “well thought-out policy considerations”.

It said the earlier system of cash donations had raised a “concern among the donors that, with their identity revealed, there would be competitive pressure from different political parties receiving donation”.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.