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Electoral Bonds UPSC NOTE

 What is electoral bonds?


  • The electoral bonds system was introduced in 2017 by way of a Finance bill and it was implemented in 2018.

  • They serve as a means for individuals and entities to make donations to registered political parties while maintaining donor anonymity.

  • State Bank of India issues the bonds in denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, and Rs 1 crore.

  • Payable to the bearer on demand and interest-free.

  • Purchased by Indian citizens or entities established in India.

  • Can be bought individually or jointly with other individuals.

  • Valid for 15 calendar days from the date of issue.

  • SBI is the authorized issuer.

  • Electoral Bonds are issued through designated SBI branches.

  • Eligibility of Political Parties:

    • Only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

    • Political Parties have secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last general election

to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly, are eligible to receive electoral bonds.

  • Electoral Bonds can be purchased digitally or through cheques.

  • Encashment only through an authorized bank account of the political party.

  • Parties must disclose their bank account with the Election Commission of India.

  • Donations are made through banking channels, ensuring transparency.

  • Political parties are obligated to explain the utilization of the funds received.

Benefits:

  • Enhanced transparency in political party funding.

  • Accountability in disclosing donation utilization.

  • Discouragement of cash transactions.

  • Preservation of donor anonymity

Supreme Court judgment on electoral bonds

  • In a landmark unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court on Thursday struck down as “unconstitutional and manifestly arbitrary” the electoral bonds scheme.

  •  This judgement provides blanket anonymity to political donors, as well as critical legal

amendments allowing rich corporations to make unlimited political donations.

  • A five-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud held that the scheme, and preceding amendments made to the Representation of the People Act, the Companies Act, and the Income Tax Act, violated the voters’ right to information about political funding under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

  • The lead opinion authored by Chief Justice Chandrachud said that the absolute non-disclosure of the source of political funding through electoral bonds promoted corruption. 

and a culture of quid pro quo with the ruling party to introduce a policy change or for bagging a license. 

  • The scheme and the amendments authorised “unrestrained influence of corporates in the electoral process.

  • The judgment belled the cat on the deep nexus between money and politics, saying that “contributions made by companies are purely business transactions made with the intent of securing benefits in return”.

  • It noted that the scheme allowed the inflow of “huge contributions” by multinational corporations with major business stakes in the

country, overawing or even concealing the relatively small financial contributions of people who believe in the ideologies of a political party without expecting any substantial favours in return.

  • We ask ourselves whether the elected would truly be responsive to the electorate if companies which bring with them huge finances and engage in quid pro quo arrangements with parties are permitted to contribute unlimited amounts.

Article 19(1)(a)

  • Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution is a fundamental right that guarantees all citizens the freedom of speech and expression

  • Express your views and opinions freely.

  • This applies to all forms of expression, including spoken word, writing, art, film, and social media.

  • The right to access information from any source and share it with others.

  • Right not obligated to express your opinion on any matter.

  • Article 19(2) is not absolute

  • Article 19(2) allows the government to impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of this right in the interest of:

  1. Sovereignty and integrity of India

  2. Security of the State

  3. Friendly relations with foreign States

  4. Public order

  5. Decency or morality

  6. Contempt of court

  • These restrictions are constantly debated and interpreted by the courts. 

  • The balance between freedom of expression and other important values is a complex issue, and there is no easy answer.

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