SC Flags 'Serious Deficiencies' in Electoral Bonds Scheme, Reserves This Judgment
SC Flags 'Serious Deficiencies' in Electoral Bonds Scheme, Reserves This Judgment

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has raised concerns about the "serious deficiencies" in the electoral bond (EB) scheme for political funding. It suggested that the Indian government should explore the development of a new, custom-designed system that prioritizes transparency and fairness instead of favoring opacity.

In a significant development, a five-judge Constitution bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, has directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to provide comprehensive information on all donors and contributions received by political parties through electoral bonds up to September 30. This directive came as the court reserved its judgment on a set of petitions challenging the validity of the electoral bond scheme.

The Election Commission is required to compile this report confidentially, gathering data from all political parties that have received funds through electoral bonds since the scheme's inception in 2018. While the ECI had data up to 2019, the court emphasized the need for the data to remain up-to-date until a final decision is reached in the case. The court explicitly requested information on the quantum of contributions.

During the third consecutive day of hearings, the Constitution bench scrutinized the 2018 electoral bond scheme and highlighted various flaws within it. In response, the central government proposed two suggestions to defend the scheme. First, it recommended that the State Bank of India (SBI) be replaced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as the designated bank for issuing electoral bonds and managing accounts. Second, the government suggested the possibility of criminalizing any breach of confidentiality related to donors."

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