Had electoral bonds really become a means of legalizing bribery?

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In a major blow to the Modi government, the Supreme Court has canceled the electoral bond scheme and said that it violates the right to information and the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution. Let us tell you that a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud delivered two separate but unanimous verdicts on the petitions challenging the scheme. The Chief Justice said that this is a violation of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(A) of the Constitution. The bench said that the fundamental right to privacy of citizens also includes the right to political privacy and affiliation.

Let us remind you that the Electoral Bond Scheme was notified by the Modi government on January 2, 2018. It was introduced as an alternative to donations to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in political funding. As per the provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds can be purchased by any citizen of India or any entity incorporated or established in the country. Any person can purchase electoral bonds either singly or jointly with other persons.

If we look closely, from the time this bond was sold for the first time in March 2018 till today, there has been no news of any scam because the entire system was being said to be transparent. However, Congress has been opposing this system and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had even termed electoral bonds as legal bribe. A section including the Congress also said that ever since the practice of donating to political parties through electoral bonds started, the amount received by political parties has increased only in the BJP’s account. Critics said that it is wrong not to have a provision to disclose who has given how much amount to which party through electoral bonds. The question raised was that when the purpose of the electoral bond system was to end corruption in politics, then why was a system made to keep political parties away from transparency in donations?

Critics also said that electoral bonds had further increased the power of the corporate world to influence politics through donations. Critics said that after the introduction of this system, the share of the corporate world in the donations received by political parties increased. Critics said that earlier there was a legal limit on the number of political donations companies could make, but now they are allowed to make unlimited donations in the form of electoral bonds and are also allowed to keep the details hidden, so who has any control over political parties? Will there be control – of the public and workers, or of the wealthy?

On the other hand, after the court’s decision, Congress has said that this decision will further strengthen the power of vote as compared to notes. The party has welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision declaring electoral bonds unconstitutional. The Congress has claimed that electoral bonds have served to increase corruption and have ended the transparency of political donations and directly benefited the ruling party BJP.

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