The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the sale of electoral bonds prior to the Assembly elections in crucial States such as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. A three judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, said the scheme began in 2018 and continued in 2019 and 2020 without “any impediments”. Chief Justice Bobde, who read out the judgment, said the court found no reason to stall the sale of the electoral bonds now.
The judgment came on an urgent application moved by an NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, to stay the sale of the bonds scheduled between April 1 and 10. ‘Serious apprehension’
The NGO, also represented by advocate Neha Rathi, voiced serious apprehension that the sale of bonds before the elections would “further increase illegal and illicit funding of political parties through shell companies”.
The court agreed that the scheme protects the identity of purchasers of electoral bonds in a cloak of anonymity, but highlighted that such purchases happened only through regular banking channels. The State Bank of India would eventually know the identity of the buyer.
“While the identity of the purchaser of the bond is withheld, it is ensured that unidentified/unidentifiable persons cannot purchase the bonds and give it to the political parties. Under Clause 7 of the scheme, buyers have to apply in the prescribed form, either physically or online, disclosing their particulars,” the court reasoned.