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On electoral bonds, Supreme Court must uphold Right to Information

  • Published
    4th Nov, 2023

Context:

The Electoral bonds case has highlighted the issues in India, raising concerns about transparency, legislative amendments, citizens' right to know, and proposing alternatives.

Electoral Bonds and Transparency

  • Intentions vs. Reality: Electoral bonds introduced in 2017 for transparent political funding.
  • Anonymity Quandary: Instead, allowed anonymous donations up to ?200 crore, undermining transparency.
  • Transparency Compromised: Raises doubts about true motive behind donor anonymity and potential quid pro quo arrangements.

Regulatory Changes and Concerns

  • Legislative Overhaul: Finance Act of 2017 amended several laws to pave way for electoral bonds.
  • Corporate Contributions: Eliminated 7.5% profit limit on company donations, potentially legitimizing crony capitalism.
  • Foreign Funding Shielded: Retroactive amendment shielded foreign financing of Indian elections from scrutiny.

Citizens' Right to Information

  • Apex Court's Precedent: Citizens' right to know settled by apex court in 2003 for transparency in elections.
  • Challenges: Attorney General's argument of "reasonable restrictions" on citizens' right to know questioned.
  • Proposals for Enhanced Transparency: Suggestions for public funding or a National Election Fund to eliminate secrecy concerns.
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