Anonymity of poll bonds must go: EC
‘They protect the identity of donors’
The government’s electoral bonds scheme for political funding has legalised anonymity, the Election Commission of India told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, reiterating its strong stand against electoral bonds.
The poll panel said such bonds protect the identity of political donors and parties receiving the contributions. Donors who contribute less than ₹20,000 to political parties through purchase of electoral bonds need not provide their identity details like PAN.
“This anonymity must go,” the ECI told a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi said the “right to vote means making an informed choice.”
“Knowing your candidate is only half the exercise. People should know the political parties who fund them. More important to know the principal than the agent,” Mr. Dwivedi submitted.
Initially, the ECI attempted a balancing act of sorts by saying that, “We are not against electoral bonds as such… We are only opposed to anonymity.”
But Chief Justice Gogoi made Mr. Dwivedi read out from the ECI affidavit and a letter it wrote to the government in May 2017, calling the lack of transparency in the electoral bonds system as a “retrogade step.”
Mr. Dwivedi said the country, through court rulings and electoral reforms, had taken a step forward from the era of huge cash transactions, but anonymity in electoral bonds is like “two steps backwards.”
“We are concerned with the amendments brought to the Representation of the People Act . Political parties should put it (information on donations) on their websites so people get to know,” Mr. Dwivedi submitted.