The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the sale of a fresh set of electoral bonds from 1 April, ahead of assembly elections in four states and one Union Territory — West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and UT of Puducherry.
The apex court said that fresh electoral bonds can be issued from 1 April.
“Since the bonds were allowed to be released in 2018 and 2019 without interruption, and sufficient safeguards are there, there is no justification to stay the electoral bonds at present,” Live Law cited the court as saying in its order.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramaniam had reserved its order on the application filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on March 24.
Electoral bond is a financial instrument used for making donations to political parties. These bonds are issued by scheduled commercial banks upon approval from the Centre to intending donors, but only against cheque and digital payments. These cannot be purchased using cash.
These are redeemable in the designated bank account of a registered political party within a prescribed time frame starting from the issuance of these bond.
On March 24, the top court had flagged the issue of possible misuse of funds received through electoral bonds by political parties for illegal purposes like terrorism and asked the Centre whether there was any control over how these funds were put to use.
The CJI Bobde-led bench told Attorney General KK Venugopal that the government should look into this issue of possible misuse of funds received through electoral bonds for illegal purposes like terrorism.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was appearing for petitioner ADR, had said that any further sale of electoral bonds should not be permitted.
When Bhushan said that elections are now largely influenced by money, the bench observed, most people are conscious of the role of money in elections.
Bhushan said there is anonymity about the donor and the EC and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had earlier raised objections on it. He claimed that most of the funds through electoral bonds have gone to the ruling party.
The bench observed that funding through electoral bonds can be to any political party.