The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will hear pleas challenging the electoral bond scheme on April 11 and decide if the matter should be heard by a five-judge Constitution Bench, reported Bar and Bench.
The bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha passed the direction after the petitioner’s counsel Shadan Farasat said it impacted the “democratic polity and funding of political parties”.
“Then we will hear it on April 11, 2023, to see if it should be referred to the Constitution bench,” the apex court said.
The electoral bond scheme was implemented by the Centre in 2018 as a source of political funding. Under the scheme, the credentials of the donors are kept anonymous. The donation can be made by any individual, company, firm or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India.
At present, political parties are not required to reveal the name of individuals or organisations giving less than Rs 20,000 and those who donated via electoral bonds.
Several petitions have been filed in the apex court against the scheme. In 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed an application by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) to put a stay on the scheme.
A report by ADR released earlier this month said that more than 66 per cent of the total income of seven national parties in 2021-22 came from “unknown sources” like electoral bonds. Out of the total, 83 per cent came only from electoral bonds.
The Centre has, however, maintained that its electoral bonds are transparent.