Supreme Court Reserves Verdict in Electoral Bonds Case: Key Highlights

The SC has directed the Election Commission to provide details of donations received by all political parties.

2 min read
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A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud reserved its verdict in the case challenging the electoral bonds scheme on Thursday, 2 November.

The hearing, which had been ongoing over the last three days, pertained to the right to information of voters vis-a-vis the right of donors to maintain confidentiality.

Here are the key highlights of the case:

1. The apex court has directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to provide in a sealed cover details of donations received by all political parties through electoral bonds till 30 September. The ECI has been allotted two weeks to do so.

2. The Centre had defended the electoral bonds scheme, saying that a greater share of such contributions going towards the ruling party was the norm.


3. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, arguing against the scheme, said that electoral bonds are "unconstitutional" and against the basic structure of the Constitution. "Free and fair elections are the basic structure. It is not free because industrialists cannot say no and it is not fair as the ruling party gets the most benefits," Sibal asserted.

5. Chief Justice Chandrachud, on the other hand, said that the scheme, while trying to bring white money into the political funding process, was creating an "information hole". While the objective is laudable, Chandrachud observed, he wondered whether proportional means have been espoused to achieve it.

6. Petitions against the electoral bonds scheme had been filed by Congress leader Jaya Thakur, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and the Association for Democratic Reforms.

7. In 2019, the Supreme Court had refused to stay the electoral bonds scheme but had assured petitioners of an "in-depth" hearing into the case.

What are electoral bonds? The electoral bonds scheme was pitched as an alternative to cash donations received by political parties in an attempt to bring greater transparency in the political funding process. Bonds can be purchased by anybody who is a citizen of India or by an entity that was established or has been incorporated in the country. The scheme was notified by the Narendra Modi government in January 2018.

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