NEWS Recently, after a brief hearing, the Supreme Court reserved orders on the question of staying of electoral bond.
CONCERNS REGARDING ELECTORAL BONDS
Electoral bonds have become a dominant way of funding the political parties and many feel that these Electoral bonds allow for limitless and anonymous corporate donations to political parties. Hence there are various concerns about the electoral bonds:
- Against democracy– Electoral bonds scheme violates fundamental tenets of our democracy.
- This is because money is the most effective way of buying policy, of engaging in regulatory capture, and of skewing the playing in one’s own favour.
- As Electoral bonds maintain secrecy around funding of the political parties, it undermines the informed decision by the voters and citizens of India.
- For democracy to thrive, the role of money in influencing elections should be limited. To ensure principles of parity between the ruling party and the opposition, the elections can be publicly funded or there should be a limit on the election expenditure as like in the advanced countries.
- But the electoral bonds scheme, by removing limits on political donations allows political corporations to influence politicians.
- This defeats the entire purpose of democracy, which as B.R. Ambedkar memorably pointed out, was not just to guarantee one person, one vote, but one vote one value.
- Against “right to know”- As held by the honourable Indian Supreme Court “right to know”, especially in the context of elections, is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression under the Indian Constitution. Hence there are constitutional objections to electoral bonds.
- Anonymity- Electoral bonds allow limitless and anonymous donations to political parties in an asymmetrical manner and hence is against healthy democracy.
- Since the donations are routed through the State Bank of India, it is possible for the government to find who is denoting to which party. Hence it has a chilling effect on donations to rival political parties, while filling the coffers of the incumbent ruling party.
- The Donation patterns of the last three year shows this behaviour where most of the donations have gone to the ruling party.
- There have been reservations within the government as well as by the Election Commission of India about the electoral bonds scheme.
- With Electoral bonds, even foreign donations to political parties can often be made through shell companies, hence electoral bonds may result in institutionalisation of corruption rather than elimination of black money.
- Governments derive their legitimacy from elections, and it is elections that grant governments the mandate to pursue their policy goals, without undue interference from courts.
- The electoral legitimacy of the government is questionable if the Electoral process becomes questionable.
- As the ruling government will never regulate something that is beneficial to them, hence it is need of the hour the honourable Supreme Court must be particularly sensitive to and cognisant of laws and rules that seek to skew the democratic process and the level playing fields and that seek to entrench one party rule over multiparty democracy. The Supreme Court’s inaction in this case is not neutral. It directly benefits the ruling party.
- Since the electoral bonds scheme is guilty of both intent and in effect, the Electoral bond deserves to be struck down by the courts as unconstitutional without any delay.