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Enhancing Democracy through Transparent Political Funding

Published: 30th Nov, 2023


Amendments to the Representation of the People Act 1951 grant electoral bonds' donors complete anonymity, contrary to global norms favoring full disclosure of political contributions.

Importance of Electoral Bond Challenge

  • Supreme Court hearings on electoral bonds are crucial for democracy and rule of law in India.
  • Political parties are vital in the democratic process, necessitating transparent and accountable funding.

Global Perspectives on Political Funding

  • Historical overview: In 1910, the U.S. enacted the Publicity Act, emphasizing full disclosure and limiting political contributions.
  • EU Regulation 2014: Imposed limits on donations with anonymization for small amounts, mandating disclosure for larger sums.
  • K.'s Political Parties Act 2000: Imposed restrictions on donations and required declaration of donation sources.

Key Regulatory Requirements for Political Funding

  • Complete Disclosure: Most legal regulations emphasize full disclosure of donors above specific minimal amounts.
  • Limits or Caps on Donations: Restrictions on the size of donations to prevent unchecked influence on the democratic process.

Importance of Public Disclosure:

  • Pillars of democracy: Transparent accounts foster citizen trust in parties and politicians, upholding the rule of law.
  • Curbing corruption: Limits on donations prevent democracy from being tarnished by unchecked large contributions.

Electoral Justice for Democracy

  • Electoral justice ensures adherence to laws, protecting electoral rights and guaranteeing free, fair, and genuine elections.
  • Electoral bonds with undisclosed donors violate transparency, undermining the democratic principles of fairness.

The Way Forward

  • Constitutional challenge insufficient: A separate law is necessary for full publication of political donations.
  • Proposed legislation should mandate:
  • Public disclosure of donor identities above a nominal limit.
  • Immediate reporting of large donations to the election commission.
  • Public availability of political party accounts.
  • Auditing of political party accounts by an independent authority.
  • Setting limits on funding and expenditure.
  • Mechanisms for law enforcement.

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