SC directs SBI to immediately stop issuing electoral bonds, asks ECI to make funding details public

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In a major judgement which will have a long term impact on funding to political parties, the Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the electoral bonds scheme as ‘unconstitutional’ and directed the State Bank of India (SBI) and other banks to immediately stop issuing the electoral bonds.

Supreme Court ordered that SBI shall furnish the details of Electoral Bonds encashed by the political parties. The court also directed the SBI to submit the details to the Election Commission of India and ordered ECI to publish these details on its website.

  • The top court said that the SBI must disclose details of each electoral bond enchased by political parties, including date of encashment, denomination. 
  • SBI shall submit details of political parties which received contributions through electoral bonds since April 12, 2019 till date to Election Commission.
  • The apex court further added that the electoral bonds scheme is violative of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of Constitution.
  • The electoral bonds not encashed yet shall be refunded, the Supreme Court added. 

The bench said the fundamental right to privacy includes citizens’ right to political privacy and affiliation.

What are electoral bonds?

The electoral bond 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.

‘Hugely welcome,’ says Congress

Congress welcomed Supreme Court’s judgement on electoral bonds saying “long-awaited verdict is hugely welcome, will reinforce power of votes over notes.”

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