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November 17, 2023 @ 7:30 am - 11:30 pm


Political parties in India have been resistant to public scrutiny of their funds, primarily sourced from big businesses. To counter this lack of transparency, civil society has used public interest litigation (PIL) to empower voters and enhance transparency in political funding. However, legislative maneuvers and schemes like the Electoral Bond Scheme (EBS) have obscured corporate donor identities.

Electoral Bonds (EB) Scheme:

Purpose and Introduction:

  • Introduced in 2018 for transparent political funding.
  • Bearer instruments like promissory notes for donations.

Anonymity of Donors:

  • Donors could remain anonymous, raising transparency concerns.
  • Difficulty in tracing the source of political funding.

Usage and Criticisms:

  • Bonds encashed without revealing donor identity.
  • Criticized for potential black money influence, undermining transparency.

Supreme Court Hearing:

  • A three-day hearing on challenges to the scheme.
  • Stakeholders voiced concerns about transparency and accountability.

Electoral Trusts (ET) Scheme:

Introduction and Reporting Requirements:

  • Introduced in 2013 for transparent political donations.
  • Electoral trusts collected and distributed funds.

Transparency and Accountability:

  • Electoral trusts submitted annual reports to the Election Commission.
  • Detailed disclosure of contributions and donations.

Implications and Challenges:

  • Balancing donor anonymity and transparency.
  • Crucial for upholding democratic values and electoral system integrity.

Judicial Review and Decision:

  • Supreme Court decision’s significance in potential reforms.
  • Balancing anonymity and transparency in focus.

Public Discourse and Reforms:

  • Public discourse sparking discussions on electoral reforms.
  • Emphasis on transparent and accountable political funding.

Legal Challenges and Concerns:

Public Interest Litigation (PIL):

  • Filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Common Cause challenging the constitutionality of amendments.
  • Contention that amendments jeopardize the country’s autonomy, incentivize corruption, and make political funding more opaque.

Electoral Bonds’ Dominance:

  • Electoral bonds became the preferred mode of political donation.
  • BJP received the majority share, indicating potential advantages for the ruling party.

Secrecy and Lack of Transparency:

Anonymity of Donors:

  • Over 94% of electoral bond sales are in one crore rupees denomination, beyond individual capacity.
  • Corporate donors receive extensive protection, raising concerns about transparency.

Government’s Argument:

  • Anonymity is claimed to protect donors from political retribution.
  • Contradicts the right to privacy, not applicable to corporate entities.

Legal Battle and Supreme Court’s Response:

PIL Hearing:

  • Constitutional Bench expeditiously concluded the hearing.
  • Focus on protecting donor anonymity and lack of disaggregated information in the electoral bond transactions.

Supreme Court’s Order (June 23, 2021):

  • Rejected plea for interim stay, suggesting voters could decipher the scheme’s secrecy by comparing corporate filings and party accounts.
  • Raises skepticism about the practicality of such scrutiny.

Hope for Transparency:

Constitutional Bench’s Role:

  • Expected to rule on the constitutionality of the Electoral Bond Scheme.
  • Potential impact on future elections, fostering a more level playing field.


The challenge to the Electoral Bond Scheme represents a critical attempt to address the lack of transparency in political funding. The Supreme Court’s decision holds the key to shaping the landscape of future elections, emphasizing the need for a balance between donor privacy and the citizen’s right to information.


November 17, 2023
7:30 am - 11:30 pm
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