“EC has to submit the income statement of various political parties through electoral bonds till September 30”: SC

Debjit Mukherjee: The National Election Commission has to submit the income statement of various political parties through electoral bonds till September 30 within two weeks. A five-judge constitutional bench led by the Chief Justice gave this order after reserving judgment after three consecutive days of hearing on electoral bonds. At the same time, the Center has been asked to create a credible, transparent process to iron out any irregularities related to electoral bonds.

On this day, the lawyer of the National Election Commission had to face the annoyance of the court. So far, lawyer Amit Sharma could not provide complete information about how much money any political party has received through bonds. He told the court that the commission felt that the court order was only for the 2019 election process. After that, referring to the interim directive four years ago, the bench said, at that time the commission was told that every political party should submit information regarding their electoral bonds to the commission in a sealed envelope. The commission has been asked to submit the envelopes submitted till September 30 to the court within the next two weeks.

A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjeev Khanna, Justice BR Gavai, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra gave their initial opinion to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on this day. It is practically clear from the various observations of the bench that no matter how much the Center claims the electoral bonds to be transparent, first by submitting the affidavit in the court and later during the hearing, the bench is not very agreeable. At one point in the day, the Chief Justice was heard saying that the electoral bond process is not error-free. A system should be developed, through which the whole matter will be transparent and credible. The court made it clear that they would not interfere in the matter, as it was entirely a matter for the legislature and the government.

At the beginning of the day, the Chief Justice asked several important questions to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. Want to know why only for-profit organizations can grant bonds? Why not cap the grant? How can a company donate all its profits? At this time, the Solicitor General made a strange argument. He said, first five and then maximum seven and a half percent of the profits could have been given to electoral bonds by any company. But it was found that the amount of money that an organization wants to donate is 10 or 15 percent of its profit. In that case they used to pay the remaining amount in cash, which is black money. Otherwise the remaining money was paid through some other fake company. Both of these are illegal. The maximum limit has therefore been lifted to bring transparency. A smiling Chief Justice is then heard saying, “So do you believe that no one pays in cash now?” To which Tushar Mehta could not answer.