After massive protests by the Opposition against electoral bonds, the Supreme Court on Wednesday has decided to hear the plea filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan seeking a stay on electoral bonds in January 2020. Bhushan has stated in his plea that the RBI and the EC have raised objections to electoral bonds which has also been violated by the government. He added that electoral bonds will encourage generation of black money and money laundering.
Previously, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had said that electoral bonds are a way of turning "black money into white" and that the government should form a committee to investigate the issue, in the Lok Sabha. He said that that the government is a "factory of lies" and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi break his silence over the issue. Several senior Congress leaders, including the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress' leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, protested against the government inside Parliament House premises.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of Commerce Piyush Goyal explained on how the government has implemented electoral bonds to bring in more transparency in the system. He said, "By electoral bonds, we have made sure that whatever money is used in election proceedings must come from the bank. Through the KYC procedures, it can be issued by selected SBI branches so that the SBI can keep its track. These bonds will remove the fear of banks in the minds of donors, who can now rightfully donate."
Electoral bonds which were introduced with the Finance Bill (2017), was launched as a scheme in 2018 by the Centre. It aimed that all the donations made to a party would be accounted for in the balance sheets without exposing the donor details to the public. Electoral bonds are issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 100,000 and Rs 1 crore by select SBI branches through a KYC-compliant account.
Electoral bonds which are valid only 15 days, can be purchased for 10 days at the beginning of every quarter. These bonds can be used to donate them to the party or individual of their choice. An additional period of 30 days shall be specified by the government in the year of Lok Sabha elections. The bonds can only be cashed by the political party through a bank account with the authorised bank.
Opposition has alleged that due to donor and party anonymity, it will encourage corporations to heavily invest in the bonds. Moreover, the Election Commission too has stated that it wanted full disclosure and transparency of the donors. The Reserve Bank of India too has warned the government against the bonds stating that it encouraged money laundering.