SC sets Oct. 31 for hearing electoral bonds case
The Supreme Court has set October 31 as the date for hearing petitions challenging the electoral bonds scheme.
What is the Electoral Bonds Scheme?
- A financial instrument that enables the public to give money to political parties in secret is the electoral bonds scheme. The program was disclosed in the Union Budget for 2017 and made public in 2018.
- The plan eliminates all previous restrictions on political contributions. This makes it possible for wealthy companies to finance elections, which may result in crony capitalism.
- On October 31, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear challenges to the electoral bonds scheme.
How does the electoral bond scheme work?
- Donors can buy anonymous electoral bonds from banks.
- The bonds are bearer securities with no interest.
- The bonds have a 15-day validity period from the day of issuance.
- The bonds may be issued and redeemed by the State Bank of India.
- In January, April, July, and October, there are ten days each when the bonds can be bought.
What are the issues concerned with the issuing of the electoral bond scheme?
- Donor Anonymity: One of the biggest problems is that the electoral bond program permits political parties’ donors to maintain their anonymity. The transfer of bonds to authorized political parties is also anonymous. The public finds it challenging to determine who is financially backing which political party due to this lack of transparency, which raises concerns about accountability and possible financial mismanagement.
- Accountability and Transparency: One major concern with the program is its lack of accountability and transparency. It is difficult to track the origins of political finance without donor identity, which is important for preserving the integrity of the democratic process.
- Possibility of Hidden Interests: The anonymity of contributors may raise questions about potential conflicts of interest or improper influence on political judgments. This may erode public confidence in the democratic system and give rise to worries about the disproportionate power of affluent people or businesses.
- Violation of the Right to Information: The electoral bond program has come under fire for perhaps going against the public’s right to know how political parties are funded. It is believed that having access to information on political finance is crucial to keeping politicians responsible and making sure they act in the public interest rather than private, exclusive interests.
- International Influence: Concerns regarding the possibility of foreign corporations with Indian subsidiaries funding political parties have been highlighted by amendments made to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) concerning the program. This could make Indian politics more susceptible to influence and lobbying from abroad.
What are the implications of foreign funding flowing into elections?
- Risk to National Sovereignty: A nation’s national sovereignty may be in jeopardy if it accepts foreign funding. Foreign contributions have the potential to compromise a country’s ability to make decisions that are in its best interests by influencing or interfering with domestic policy.
- Possibility of Foreign Intervention: By giving money to particular candidates or parties, foreign governments, organizations, or individuals with vested interests may try to sway the results of elections. The citizens’ will and the democratic process may be compromised by this meddling.
- Lack of Accountability: The electoral process may be less transparent and accountable as a result of foreign money. It may be challenging to track down the sources of campaign contributions when dealing with foreign donors since they may not be subject to the same rules and disclosure obligations as domestic donors.
- Uneven Playing Field: In elections, foreign funding may produce an unfair electoral environment. Election results could be distorted if candidates or parties having access to large foreign funds have a major edge over those who only rely on support from within the country.
- Loss of Public Trust: Election-related foreign money has the potential to reduce public confidence in the democratic system. Election legitimacy may be questioned, and citizens may grow suspicious of the impartiality and independence of their chosen representatives.
When taken as a whole, these problems raise serious questions about how the electoral bond plan would affect accountability, transparency, and the possibility of hidden interests in Indian politics. The Indian judiciary is investigating the scheme’s legal and constitutional components in order to allay these worries.