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After SC order, EC asks parties to share details of donations received through electoral bonds

New Delhi: The Election Commission has asked “all such parties” which have ever got any donation through electoral bonds to furnish by November 15 the details of such contributions received by them since the inception of the scheme.

The move by the EC comes after the Supreme Court on November 2 directed the poll panel to produce before it in sealed cover the ‘up to date’ data of funds received by political parties through electoral bonds till September 30, 2023.

In a letter to heads of all political parties on November 3, the EC has also asked them to share detailed particulars of the donors against each bond, the amount of each such bond and the full particulars of the credit received against each bond in a sealed cover.

The EC’s letter said particulars should be sent in double sealed cover — one duly sealed envelope containing the particulars and second duly sealed envelope containing the first envelope — to its secretary of the election expenditure division.

The EC said the sealed covers should reach it latest by November 15 evening. It also said the envelops should be clearly marked as ‘confidential-electoral bonds’.

While passing its order on November 2, the apex court had said, ‘This exercise shall be carried out on or before November 19, 2023. Data in a sealed packet shall be handed over to the Registrar (Judicial) of this court.’ A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud referred to the April 12, 2019 interim direction passed by the apex court directing political parties to furnish the details of funds received by them through electoral bonds to the poll panel in a sealed cover.

The apex court had, in April 2019, declined to stay the electoral bonds scheme and made it clear that it will accord an in-depth hearing on the pleas as the Centre and the Election Commission had raised ‘weighty issues’ that had ‘tremendous bearing on the sanctity of the electoral process in the country’.

The electoral bonds scheme, which was notified by the government on January 2, 2018, was pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring in transparency in political funding.

According to the provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by any citizen of India or entity incorporated or established in the country. An individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.

Only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than one percent of the votes polled in the last election to the Lok Sabha or a state legislative assembly are eligible to receive electoral bonds.

According to the government notification, electoral bonds shall be encashed by an eligible political party only through an account with an authorised bank.

(Published 13 November 2023, 15:57 IST)

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