The Supreme Court bench of CJI Chandrachud, and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra heard the batch of pleas challenging the validity of the electoral bonds scheme for funding political parties for the third day on Thursday (2 November).
Here are the highlights:
1. "What about voters' right?"
LiveLaw quoted Justice Gavai as questioning, "What about voters' right?", to which Solicitor General Tushar Mehta responded by saying, "Voter's right is to know what party gets what information. Voter votes not based on which party is funded by whom, voter votes based on ideology, principle, leadership and efficiency of the party."
2. "Need for transparency"
Asserting the need for transparency, CJI Chandrachud asked to design a system that doesn't have the flaws of this system which "puts a premium on opacity."
3. Question of kickbacks and quid pro quo
Justice Khanna said, "There are two conflicting rights- one is confidentiality and the other is kickbacks and quid pro quo."
SG Mehta explained, "The bond is valid for 15 days of issuance which acts as a check. It doesn't become a currency or bearer bond that can be traded. This also eliminates the possibility of kickbacks and quid pro quo."
4. The balance
Attorney General R Venkatramani argued that we need balancing between two kinds of freedoms- one negative and one positive. "The scheme doesn't violate any existing right of any person," he said.
5. "Like to know quantum"
Asking for data on the amount received by different political parties through electoral bonds, CJI said, "Submit the data as of 31 March 2023. You can give it to us even up till 31 Sept 2023... We will not ask SBI to reveal the identity of donors at this stage. But we would like to know the quantum."
The arguments were concluded and the judgment was reserved with the Supreme Court directing the ECI to produce up-to-date data within two weeks and submit it "in a sealed pack to the Registrar General".
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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