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Supreme Court Told Citizens Lack Right to Electoral Bond Funding Sources Disclosure

  • Posted on October 30, 2023
  • Legal
  • By TSW NEWS DESK
  • 173 Views

In a significant development, the Centre has informed the Supreme Court that citizens do not possess a universal right to access information regarding the origins of electoral bond funds. This statement came in response to pleas challenging the electoral bonds scheme and was made on October 29 during the court proceedings.

Supreme Court Told Citizens Lack Right to Electoral Bond Funding Sources Disclosure Image Source -www.livelaw.in

In a significant development, the Centre has informed the Supreme Court that citizens do not possess a universal right to access information regarding the origins of electoral bond funds. This statement came in response to pleas challenging the electoral bonds scheme and was made on October 29 during the court proceedings.

R Venkataramani, the Attorney General, emphatically asserted in the apex court that citizens cannot claim an all-encompassing right to acquire information without being subject to reasonable restrictions. He highlighted that the "right to know" should serve specific purposes rather than being a blanket entitlement.

The Centre further expounded that such unrestricted access to information could potentially be detrimental to the health of democracy, as it may expose sensitive and confidential information related to political parties and their financial contributors.

The government pointed out that electoral bonds serve the crucial function of transferring funds to political parties through secure banking channels, ensuring compliance with tax regulations. In the past, political contributions lacked proper regulation.

This development unfolds in the context of a series of petitions contesting the amendments introduced in the Finance Act of 2017, which enabled the introduction of the anonymous electoral bonds scheme. These amendments affected various key Acts, including the Reserve Bank of India Act, Companies Act, Income Tax Act, Representation of Peoples Act, and Foreign Contributions Regulations Act.

Under the revised rules, political parties are not obliged to disclose the origin of donations received through electoral bonds. This has been a point of contention, with the Election Commission of India expressing concerns.

While an interim order in April 2019 mandated political parties to disclose donor details in sealed envelopes, a subsequent Supreme Court Bench declined to impose a stay on the electoral bond scheme in March 2021.

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According to the Centre's affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on October 29, 2023, the electoral bonds scheme is lawful, does not infringe upon existing rights, and cannot be invalidated. The Attorney General emphasized that constitutional courts review state actions only if they encroach upon established rights.

The case will be heard by a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, starting on October 31.

In summary, the Centre's stance in the Supreme Court underscores the delicate balance between transparency and the protection of sensitive information in the electoral process, raising important questions about the future of the electoral bond scheme in India.

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