The Supreme Court recently made a statement on electoral bonds, and this would have struck your attention: "Electoral bonds fail to provide a level playing field." the respective amount is meant for legitimate purposes and not for pushing the donations for the unaccounted cash and black money. As per the report of 2018, there was an allegation of the misuse of electoral bonds in the nation. Later, questions were raised about accountability and transparency. The people even argued that this might support illegal funding since the donor's identities were not revealed.
"Electoral bonds have the potential to blur the lines between corporate interests and political decisions. The lack of transparency in this system raises concerns about the influence that big corporations can wield over political parties." - Alok Prasanna Kumar, Senior Resident Fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
Political Funding Secrecy
Is it time to open the gate of political funding? Looking at the ground level, the voters do have the right to know how much funds are transferred, why it is done, what the result would be, whether any kickbacks out of it or what are the next steps. Nevertheless, there needs to be an exemption that for certain transactions, the secrecy has to be maintained. Still, the significant part is the parties who make the donations have to strictly adhere to the KYC requirements to ensure the money comes and goes in a proper channel.
Recently, Attorney General R Venkataramani made a statement "The scheme in question extends the benefit of confidentiality to the contributor. It ensures and promotes clean money being contributed. It ensures abiding by tax obligations. Thus, it does not fall foul of any existing right," the AG told the Supreme Court.
Before the electoral bonds came into existence in 2018, there was a limit set for corporate firms on account of fund donations. They can share the amount at 7.5 percent of three years' net profits. As per the common man's perspective, the big corporate may easily influence the system in making favorable policies that work well for their business functions but may not necessarily be correct. Nonetheless, considering the future goals well in advance, the system may utilize this huge fund for development and several other activities that benefit the people. What matters is that everything has to work productively with strict policies.
"Electoral bonds raise concerns about transparency and accountability, as they allow for anonymous donations to political parties. This can potentially lead to increased corporate influence in the political process." - Jagdeep S. Chhokar, Founder-member of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
Protection of Donor Identities
Based on the earnings of companies, they may contribute their portion for political funding. Generally, no one wants to showcase their funding details to the general, but still, it depends. Considering the recent statement made by Tushar Mehta, Senior counsel serving as the Solicitor General of India, stated that "Political self-expression, either through voting or donations to one’s preferred party or candidate lies at the heart of the zone of privacy which the government is constitutionally obligated to respect,” Mehta stated in a 123-page note submitted to the Court. Hence, donors do have the right to privacy and showcase if it is necessary.
In a nutshell, does this practice have to be followed as it is, or do any changes have to be made to make it more transparent? What do you think? Undoubtedly, we have a robust system that has a bench of well-experienced and highly knowledgeable lawmakers who can seriously look into this matter and come up with an appropriate judgment that makes the issues sorted. Being a citizen of the nation, we have no right to question the law as the laws amended are for the sake of the public and hence cannot be asked.