Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 27
Citing ensuing Bihar Assembly polls, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has moved the Supreme Court seeking urgent hearing of its PIL challenging the Electoral Bonds Scheme for funding political parties.
Bihar polls are scheduled to be held on October 28, November 3 and November 7. Results are to be declared on November 10.
“Right before the Bihar Legislative Assembly elections, the State Bank of India, in the XIV Phase of sale, has been authorised to issue and encash Electoral Bonds through its 29 authorised branches with effect from October 19 to October 28, 2020,” stated the plea filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan.
The NGO’s petition against the 2018 Electoral Bonds Scheme is already pending before the top court which had earlier refused to stay it ahead of Delhi Assembly polls earlier this year.
However, it had asked the Centre and the Election Commission to respond to the NGO’s plea which has not been listed for hearing since then.
Now, demanding urgent hearing, ADR said even though notification of January 2, 2018, stipulated the sale of electoral bonds in months of January, April, July and October months of each year and the “window was not opened in April and July but has been opened in October (this year) right before the Bihar legislative election”.
It said in view of the passing of more than nine months since the last date of hearing of the PIL and new developments relating to Bihar legislative election having taken place, the instant plea required an urgent hearing.
The NGO pointed out that it had filed the PIL on September 4, 2017, on the issue of corruption and subversion of democracy through illicit and foreign funding of political parties and lack of transparency in the accounts of all political parties.
“Certain amendments made through Finance Act, 2017, and earlier Finance Act, 2016, both passed as money bills and which have opened doors to unlimited political donations, even from foreign companies and thereby legitimising electoral corruption at a huge scale while at the same time ensuring complete non-transparency in political funding,” it said.
“The scheme has opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies which can have serious repercussions on the Indian democracy,” it submitted.