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Supreme Court’s Full Disclosure: Electoral Bond Figures Submitted EC

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By Media Reporter

SUPREME COURT
Supreme Court's Full Disclosure: Electoral Bond Figures Submitted EC 4

Introduction:

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of India issued an order directing the (SBI) to reveal crucial data pertaining to political contributions to the Election Commission of India (ECI). This move comes as a response to the ECI’s plea for transparency in the EB scheme, aiming to shed light on the donors behind political funding.

Let’s delve deeper into this significant development and its implications for electoral transparency.A five-judge bench headed by CJI Chandrachud also comprises Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra. Both pleas are  10.30 am today, Monday, March 11.The apex court had, in an order on February 15, scrapped EB and directed India’s largest public bank, SBI, to submit all details regarding the same to the EL of India by March 6. Further, the ECI was directed to publish the received data on its website by March 13.

Understanding the EB Scheme:

The EB scheme, introduced in 2018, allowed individuals and corporations to make anonymous donations to political parties. However, concerns were raised regarding the lack of transparency surrounding these donations, as the scheme shielded the identities of the donors. The recent order by the SC seeks to address this issue by unveiling the veil of anonymity shrouding political contributions Besides this, the five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud will also hear a separate plea seeking contempt action against SBI for allegedly “wilfully and deliberately” disobeying the SC’s deadline for submission of details. The petition was filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on March 7.

Supreme Court’s Directive to SBI:

The SC’s directive mandates the SBI, the designated custodian of Eb, to disclose unique identification numbers linking donors to their respective political contributions. This data, requested by the ECI, is crucial for linking donors to donations and ensuring transparency in political funding. The court has set a deadline for the SBI to provide this information, underscoring the urgency of the matter.

Earlier attempts by SBI to seek an extension to furnish EB details were rebuffed by the SC, which instructed the bank to disclose the information to the ECI promptly. Dismissing SBI’s plea for an extension until June 30, 2024, the court upheld the ECI’s obligation to publish the details on its website by March 15, a deadline that has been met.

ECI’s Pursuit of Transparency:

The Election Commission of India has been steadfast in its pursuit of transparency in electoral funding. Its submission of EB details to the SC in compliance with previous orders, reflects its commitment to upholding the integrity of the electoral process. By requesting the disclosure of unique identification numbers, the ECI aims to enhance accountability and promote fair practices in political funding.

SBI’s Affirmation and Court’s Response:

In an affidavit submitted to the SC the SBI confirmed the purchase and redemption of thousands of EB by political parties. However, the bank faced criticism for its reluctance to disclose the unique identification numbers associated with these transactions. The SC decision to uphold the ECI’s plea for transparency underscores the importance of accountability and public scrutiny in electoral finance.

Implications for Electoral Transparency:

The disclosure of EB numbers marks a significant step towards enhancing transparency in political funding. By linking donors to their contributions, this data enables greater scrutiny of the sources of political finance, thereby bolstering the integrity of the electoral process. Moreover, it empowers citizens to make informed decisions by providing insights into the financial backing of political parties.

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Conclusion:

The SC order mandating the disclosure of EB numbers to the Election Commission of India signifies a victory for transparency and accountability in electoral finance. By unravelling the anonymity surrounding political contributions, this decision reinforces the democratic principles of openness and public scrutiny. As we move forward, it is imperative to uphold these principles to safeguard the integrity of our democratic institutions.

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