Supreme Court refuses to stay sale of electoral bonds before Assembly elections

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking stay on further sale of electoral bonds ahead of assembly elections.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde declined to stay sale of the electoral bonds as sought in the application moved by the NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms.

The NGO had also sought stay on sale of the electoral bonds during the pendency of the PIL filed by it pertaining to funding of political parties and alleged lack of transparency in their accounts. 

The Centre had earlier told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, that the bonds would be issued from April 1 to April 10.

The NGO had claimed that there is a serious apprehension that any further sale of electoral bonds before the upcoming assembly elections, including in West Bengal and Assam, would further ‘increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies.’

While reserving its order on the NGO’s application, the apex court on March 24 had flagged the issue of possible misuse of funds received through electoral bonds by political parties for illegal purposes like terrorism and had asked the Centre whether there was any ‘control’ over how these funds were put to use.

The top court had said that the government should look into this issue of possible misuse of funds received through electoral bonds for illegal purposes like terrorism.

“What is the control of the government on how the money is put to use,” the bench had asked the government.

“The funds can be misused for illegal purposes like terrorism. We would like you, as the government, to look into this aspect,” the bench said, adding that political parties may use these funds for activities beyond their political agenda.

“If a political party receives electoral bonds worth Rs 100 crore, what is the assurance that it won’t be used for illegal purposes or fund violence,” the bench had observed.

The Centre had told the bench that electoral bonds have a validity of 15 days and political parties have to file their income tax return also.

It had said that buyers have to use white money and the purchase of electoral bonds is through a banking channel.

“Terrorism is not funded by white money. It is funded by black money,” the government had said.

The NGO had said there is anonymity about the donor and the Election Commission and the Reserve Bank of India had earlier raised objections on it.

It had also claimed that most of the funds through electoral bonds have gone to the ruling party.

Assembly polls will be held in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Union territory of Puducherry beginning from March 27 to April 29. 

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