Hyderabad: The Centre’s decision to permit electoral bonds to fund political parties — replacing the existing donations in cash — will completely remove what little transparency exists in political funding, according to a former Chief Election Commissioner who did not want to be named.
At present, political parties are obligated to disclose the source of donations exceeding Rs 20,000 to the income tax department in order to get tax exemption. They also get IT exemption for donations under Rs 20,000 for which they need not disclose the source.
The EC in one of its recommendation to the Centre wanted to make it mandatory for parties to disclose the source of donations received by them for amounts of Rs 2,000 and above in order to bring more transparency and accountability by revealing both the receiver and the donor, but this was not acted upon.
Tuesday’s notification will do away with whatever little transparency exists now, felt the former CEC as there will be no record in the public domain of which donor gave funds to which party.
‘Donors can be harassed’
“In lieu of the cash, bonds are going to be introduced. The purchaser or donor can obtain the bond from the designated bank, across the counter, for any amount, even exceeding Rs 1 crore, and give it to a political party which will cash it and later inform the IT department that it has received so and so donation, and seek exemption.
“But the donor’s name is only available with the bank and will not be automatically disclosed to the IT department as in the case of persons purchasing a draft for over and above a few thousands. Only people in government, particularly the finance department, will know who had purchased the bonds and also they will know to which party it is going. This will impact on the quantum of donations for Opposition parties as the ruling establishment will come to know about it, and has every chance of harassing the donors,” the former CEC pointed out.
The beauty of the electoral bond system, he said, is that the entire IT Department is kept at bay and there is 100 per cent no transparency and no information available in the public domain....