Supreme Court Strikes Down Electoral Bonds Scheme

Breaking: India's Supreme Court declares electoral bonds scheme unconstitutional, citing lack of transparency. Voters' right to information upheld. Key points, directives, and observations explained. Learn more about the judgment's impact on political funding in India.
Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court dealt a significant blow to the electoral bonds scheme on Thursday, declaring it "unconstitutional." The unanimous verdict emphasized the crucial role of information in upholding the right to vote.

Electoral Bond
Electoral Bond

Key Points of the Judgment:

  • Right to Information for Voters: The apex court highlighted that voters have the right to essential information necessary for casting their votes, underscoring the pivotal role of political parties in the electoral process.

  • Constitution Bench Verdict: The judgment was delivered by a five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra.

Background of Electoral Bonds:

Launched in January 2018, electoral bonds are financial instruments allowing individuals or corporate entities to purchase them from a bank and present them to a political party, which can redeem them for funds.

Key Directions from the Supreme Court:

  • Disclosure of Electoral Bond Purchases: The Election Commission of India is mandated to publish details of electoral bond purchases on its website by March 13, 2024.

  • Reporting by State Bank of India: The State Bank of India (SBI) is required to submit details of parties that received electoral bond contributions from the 2019 interim order until the present date.

BJP, Congress
BJP, Congress

Chief Justice's Remarks:

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud emphasized that while political contributions are permitted by law, the contributors' affiliations must be disclosed, with the constitution safeguarding their identities. He distinguished between contributions by individuals, which may indicate support, and those by companies, which are seen as purely business transactions.

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Major Observations by the Supreme Court:

  • Unconstitutionality of Electoral Bonds Scheme: The scheme has been deemed unconstitutional as it violates citizens' right to information regarding potential quid pro quo.

  • Immediate Cessation of Electoral Bond Issuance: The issuing bank is directed to halt the issuance of electoral bonds immediately.

  • Disclosure of Donations: The State Bank of India is tasked with furnishing details of donations through electoral bonds and the political parties that received these contributions.

  • Nature of Political Contributions: Contributions to political parties may be for support or as a quid pro quo. Not all contributions aim to influence public policy; some are made by students, daily wagers, etc., for various purposes.

  • Influence of Companies: Contributions by companies carry more significant influence on the political process than those by individuals. Treating companies and individuals alike under the Companies Act is deemed manifestly arbitrary.

  • Alternatives to Electoral Bonds: The electoral bonds scheme is not the sole means to curb black money in politics; alternative measures exist.

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