The Election Commission told a Parliamentary committee on Friday that the introduction of electoral bonds are a ‘retrograde’ step as it will compromise transparency in political funding, reported news agency PTI. The electoral bond scheme, recently introduced by the government, helps citizens donate to political parties anonymously. The process involves donors issuing electoral bonds from an authorised bank, and donating them to the political party of their choice. The bond, open for a limited period of time during or before an election, has a very short lifespan. Through this process, the Centre hopes to cleanse funding of political parties.
“The amendment in section 29 C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 making it no longer necessary to report details of donations received through electoral bonds is a retrograde step as transparency of political funding would be compromised as a result of the change,” the EC said in a written deposition to the Parliamentary standing committee on Law and Personnel, reported PTI. The EC and members of the committee discussed electronic voting machines (EVMs), paper trail machines and electoral reforms in a meeting today.
Explaining the scheme, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said, “This idea of electoral bonds has been closely debated in the government. Now how do these bonds function. These bonds have to be authorised under a particular scheme under the Income Tax Act. That scheme will have the following features, it will open for a limited period of time during elections or maybe a little before the elections. The life of a bond will be very short maybe a few days.”
“Why do we take these precautions, knowing the manner in which people have laundered money, a bond should not become a parallel currency, so that people start transacting in bonds. The bond can be purchased by any donor by cheque payment from an authorised bank. You can only donate these bonds to political parties. And these will be redeemable within a period of three or four weeks of the purchase of the bond in only one bank account of a political party,” Jaitley said.