Supreme Court strikes down electoral bonds as unconstitutional

Author : Nimisha Nayak

Updated On : February 16, 2024

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In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court of India has declared the Central Government's Electoral Bonds Scheme unconstitutional, marking a significant setback for the scheme that allowed anonymous contributions to political parties. The landmark ruling was delivered by a five-judge constitutional bench comprising Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, and Justices Sanjeev Khanna, B.R. Gavai, J.B. Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra.

The judgment came in response to a series of petitions challenging the amendments made to various statutes through the Finance Act, 2017, which introduced and legitimized the Electoral Bonds Scheme. These amendments had eased restrictions on political funding, thereby diluting the transparency and accountability in electoral financing.

The bench unanimously quashed the Electoral Bonds Scheme, as well as the related amendments to the Income Tax Act and the Representation of People Act, which had allowed for these anonymous contributions. Chief Justice Chandrachud pointed out that the electoral bonds were not the least intrusive means of curbing black money in politics, undermining the government's stated objective for introducing the scheme.

As a direct consequence of the ruling, the State Bank of India (SBI) has been instructed to cease issuing electoral bonds. Furthermore, the court ordered SBI to provide the Election Commission of India (ECI) with details of the political parties that have received contributions through these bonds since April 2019. The bank is also required to disclose information regarding the encashment of these bonds, including the dates, before March 2024. This information is to be made public on the ECI's website. Political parties benefiting from such contributions are mandated to return the bonds to the issuing bank within 15 days.

Introduced through the Finance Act of 2017, the electoral bonds scheme was touted as a means to facilitate contributions to political parties, but it faced widespread criticism for its lack of transparency and accountability. Critics argued that it enabled undisclosed, and potentially unlimited, funding in the electoral process, thereby compromising the integrity of the democratic system.

The Supreme Court's decision is hailed as a triumph for transparency and accountability within the Indian judicial system. By striking down the electoral bonds scheme, the court has underscored the necessity of clear and transparent funding in politics and has taken a significant step toward safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process in India.

Supreme Court strikes down electoral bonds as unconstitutional

Author : Nimisha Nayak

February 16, 2024

SHARE

In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court of India has declared the Central Government's Electoral Bonds Scheme unconstitutional, marking a significant setback for the scheme that allowed anonymous contributions to political parties. The landmark ruling was delivered by a five-judge constitutional bench comprising Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, and Justices Sanjeev Khanna, B.R. Gavai, J.B. Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra.

The judgment came in response to a series of petitions challenging the amendments made to various statutes through the Finance Act, 2017, which introduced and legitimized the Electoral Bonds Scheme. These amendments had eased restrictions on political funding, thereby diluting the transparency and accountability in electoral financing.

The bench unanimously quashed the Electoral Bonds Scheme, as well as the related amendments to the Income Tax Act and the Representation of People Act, which had allowed for these anonymous contributions. Chief Justice Chandrachud pointed out that the electoral bonds were not the least intrusive means of curbing black money in politics, undermining the government's stated objective for introducing the scheme.

As a direct consequence of the ruling, the State Bank of India (SBI) has been instructed to cease issuing electoral bonds. Furthermore, the court ordered SBI to provide the Election Commission of India (ECI) with details of the political parties that have received contributions through these bonds since April 2019. The bank is also required to disclose information regarding the encashment of these bonds, including the dates, before March 2024. This information is to be made public on the ECI's website. Political parties benefiting from such contributions are mandated to return the bonds to the issuing bank within 15 days.

Introduced through the Finance Act of 2017, the electoral bonds scheme was touted as a means to facilitate contributions to political parties, but it faced widespread criticism for its lack of transparency and accountability. Critics argued that it enabled undisclosed, and potentially unlimited, funding in the electoral process, thereby compromising the integrity of the democratic system.

The Supreme Court's decision is hailed as a triumph for transparency and accountability within the Indian judicial system. By striking down the electoral bonds scheme, the court has underscored the necessity of clear and transparent funding in politics and has taken a significant step toward safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process in India.

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