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SC declines interim stay on Electoral Bond Scheme

New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday declined to grant an interim stay on the operation of Electoral Bond Scheme, and directed the petitioner NGO objecting to the scheme to approach the court with an appropriate application.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that the matter requires a detailed hearing and posted it for next hearing on April 10.

Incidentally, the polling for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections is scheduled to take place on April 11.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, the counsel for NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), approached the court alleging there is a strong possibility that thousands of crore have been channelled to political parties under the garb of anonymity.

Bhushan also alleged that nearly 95 per cent of the electoral bonds proceeds have been moved to the accounts of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal contested Bhushan's arguments.

The AG said the Electoral Bond Scheme was introduced to track the movement of black money towards funding of various political parties and added that it is an instrument to check the flow of black money.

Rubbishing Bhushan's charges, the AG said that the NGO's counsel is getting carried away and making an election speech by claiming that 95 per cent of the electoral bonds have gone in favour of the ruling party.

The ADR filed an application in the apex court seeking an immediate stay on the electoral bonds, which was introduced by the government in January 2018. The aim of the instrument is to clean up funding of various political parties and help combat the menace of black money in the political system.

The court asked the NGO to file a proper application to seek a stay on the scheme.

The apex court is in the process of hearing a batch of petitions challenging the essence of electoral bonds and seeking a stay on the scheme. Apart from the NGO, among the other petitioners is Sitaram Yechury, the General Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The electoral bonds are a monetary instrument that could be bought either by citizens or corporate groups from the State Bank of India. Later, these bonds can be given to any political party of choice, who can redeem them to generate funds. Bonds holders donating to political parties, however, remain anonymous, as per the scheme.

Earlier this week, the Centre had filed an affidavit in the top court defending the bonds. The affidavit said that the bonds are certainly a concrete step in introducing accountability and transparency in the entire election process.

--IANS

ss/nir


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