The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that the long pending batch of petitions challenging the controversial Electoral Bonds scheme will be taken up for final hearing in the third week of March this year.
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud and also comprising Justice P S Narasimha passed an order on Tuesday, directing that the batch of petitions challenging the controversial Electoral Bonds scheme will be taken up for final hearing in the third week of March this year.
“The Electoral Bonds case will be listed for hearing in the third week of March,” the CJI led bench said.
An electoral bond is an instrument in the nature of a promissory note which can be purchased by any individual, company, firm or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India.
Electoral bonds were introduced through Finance Act 2017, which in turn amended three other statutes – the RBI Act, the Income Tax Act and the Representation of People Act – for enabling introduction of such bonds.
Various petitions are pending before the top court challenging at least five amendments made to different statutes through Finance Act 2016 and 2017, on the ground that they have opened doors to unlimited, unchecked funding of political parties.
The petitions sought that the money bill route was adopted in order to bypass the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling BJP government does not have a majority.
The petitioners — ADR and Common Cause and Jaya Thakur — had moved the Supreme Court and challenged the Electoral Bond scheme.
They claimed that the consequence of the amendments was that annual contribution reports of political parties to be furnished to the Election Commission of India (ECI) need not mention names and addresses of those persons/ individuals by contributing by way of electoral bonds, thereby killing transparency in political funding.
The Finance Act, 2017 introduced a system of electoral bonds to be issued by any scheduled bank for the purpose of electoral funding.