‘Early’ Supreme Court scan on poll bonds
Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Monday agreed to an early listing of a fresh petition challenging the Centre’s decision to allow the sale of a fresh tranche of electoral bonds amid elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
The assurance from the bench, which included Justice J.B.Pardiwala, to senior advocate Anoop Chowdhari came during the morning mentioning time.
Till now, the bonds — which allow anonymous donations to political parties — could be sold only on 10 specified days each in January, April, July and October in years that did not witness Lok Sabha polls.
But the Centre last week amended the law to grant an additional 15 days a year for bonds to be sold at specified State Bank of India branches, and the finance ministry announced that these branches would sell the bonds from November 9 to 15.
The Himachal polls were held on November 12 and the Gujarat elections are scheduled on December 1 and 5.
Chowdhari pleaded that the issuance of electoral bonds during the ongoing election process was “wholly illegal” at a time the validity of the electoral bond scheme already faced a challenge before the apex court.
“We will list the matter, it will come up,” Justice Chandrachud said without specifying a date.
The Association for Democratic Rights (ADR), CPM and certain individuals have challenged the validity of the electoral bonds scheme, notified in 2018, which they say has facilitated unlimited and opaque political donations, even from foreign companies, thereby legitimising electoral corruption.
On October 14, the Centre had in the Supreme Court defended the electoral bonds scheme.