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Election Commission

Election Commission Says E.Bonds Aren’t Transparent

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has told the Supreme Court that electoral bond, contrary to government claims, wreck transparency in political funding.

Concerns raised by ECI

  • Coupled with the removal of cap on foreign funding, they invite foreign corporate powers to impact Indian politics
  • The ECI also raised concerns regarding the amendments made to various key statutes through the two consecutive Finance Acts of 2016 and 2017.
  • These amendments would pump in black money for political funding through shell companies and allow “unchecked foreign funding of political parties in India which could lead to Indian politics being influenced by foreign companies.
  • Warned govt regarding serious repercussions/impact on the transparency of political finance/funding of political parties.
  • “The Election Commission of India has time and again voiced the importance of declaration of donations received by political parties and also about the manner in which those funds are expended by them for better transparency and accountability in the election process,”
  • The amendments virtually derailed ECI guidelines of August 29, 2014, requiring parties to file reports on contributions received.

Amendments to the Finance Act 2017

  • The Finance Act of 2017 amends various laws, including the Representation of the People (RP) Act of 1951, the Income Tax Act and the Companies Act. The Finance Act of 2016 makes changes in the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 2010.
  • The amendment to the RP Act allows political parties to skip recording donations received by them through electoral bonds in their contribution reports to the ECI. This is a retrograde step as far as transparency of donations is concerned as the poll commission has no way to ascertain whether the donations were received legally by the political party from government companies or foreign sources.
  • The ECI said the amendment introduced by the government in the Income Tax Act allows anonymous donations. Donors to political parties need not provide their names, address or PAN if they have contributed less than Rs. 20,000. Now, “many political parties have been reporting a major portion of the donations received as being less than the prescribed limit of Rs. 20,000

Amendments to the Finance Act 2016

  • The ECI extends its critique to the Finance Act of 2016, highlighting how it had amended the FCRA 2010 to “allow donations to be received from foreign companies having majority stake in Indian companies.
  • The amendment in the Companies Act “opens up the possibility of shell companies being set up for the sole purpose of making donations to political parties.

About Electoral Bond Scheme

  • Electoral Bond is a bearer Banking Instrument to be used for funding eligible Political Parties.
  • An eligible Political Party is the one registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly.
  • The bonds will be issued in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore and will be available at specified branches of State Bank of India. They can be bought by the donor with a KYC-compliant account.
  • Donors can donate the bonds to their party of choice which can then be cashed in via the party’s verified account within 15 days.
  • They can be encashed by an eligible political party only through their accounts with authorised banks.
  • The bonds do not have the name of the donor or the receiving political party and only carry unique hidden alphanumeric serial numbers as an in-built security feature.

https://www.iasipstnpsc.in/electoral-bond-scheme-2018/

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/electoral-bonds-hit-transparency-in-political-funding-says-election-commission/article26656311.ece

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