DC Edit | Poll bonds: Be transparent

The continued defence of the electoral bond scheme by senior government leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite the Supreme Court of India finding that it violated the Constitution betrays a self-righteousness that does not square with democratic principles.

It is everyone’s case that parties should not fight elections on the strength of black money provided to them by interest groups for it will lead to quid pro quo decisions. Those would work against the interests of the silent majority. But a completely opaque system which shuts the door on the public about which individual or corporate gave how much money to which party and when cannot substitute the present one. The Prime Minister’s argument that the electoral bond scheme shows the trail of the money is specious: The information was available only with the bank and it is only the intervention of the Supreme Court that saw it placed in the public domain.

It is not that we had no system for individuals and corporates to contribute to political parties legally and transparently. The information on such contributions was available to all shareholders and officials, too. However, there were limits and conditions to make such contributions which essentially blocked the chances of shell companies laundering black money through this route. The electoral bonds scheme did away with every such precaution, including the eligibility criteria of a company to make these contributions and a ceiling for the same.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman appears to support the idea of greater transparency as she is on record for saying a new framework should “primarily retain the level of transparency and completely remove the possibility of black money entering into this”. The Supreme Court was not against corporate funding of political parties; its objection was that it violated the people’s right to information. A new system which meets such constitutional requirements should pass judicial muster. Instead of insisting on the purity of the now-scrapped system, a future government should rather put its thoughts together to create a transparent one.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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