In a major interim verdict over electoral bonds, the Supreme Court on Friday has ordered all political parties who have received donations through electoral bonds should submit details of said donations in a sealed cover to the Election Commission of India (ECI).
The Supreme Court has called the issue of electoral bonds, a ‘weighty’ issue having 'tremendous bearing on the election process'. It also said it was the court's responsibility to ensure that any interim arrangement should not tilt the balance in favour of any party.
Accordingly, the apex court bench ordered that all political parties receiving donations through electoral bonds should submit the details of the donations to the Election Commission in sealed covers by May 30, 2019. These covers are to remain in custody of the ECI. The Finance Ministry has been directed to reduce the window of purchasing electoral bonds from 10 days to five in April-May.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi pronounced this order on the plea filed by NGO, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
The NGO, which has challenged the validity of the scheme, has sought interim relief including that either the issuance of electoral bonds be stayed or the names of the donors made public to ensure transparency in the poll process.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre on Thursday, supported the scheme saying the purpose behind it is to eliminate the use of black money in elections.
"So far as the electoral bond scheme is concerned, it is the matter of policy decision of the government and no government can be faulted for taking a policy decision," said Venugopal.
Attorney General KK Venugopal had asked the Supreme Court to not pass an order on the issue of electoral bonds during the ongoing election process. However, the court had reserved its order, pronouncing that it would deliver an interim verdict on Friday.
The 2019 Lok Sabha Elections are being held from April 11 to May 19 in seven phases, with the counting of votes scheduled for May 23.