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SBI report on Electoral Bonds
News: Recently, the State Bank of India (SBI) shared data reporting that Donations to political parties through electoral bonds (EBs) have crossed the Rs 10,000-crore mark.
What are the concerns surrounding EBs?
• As such bonds are sold via a government-owned bank (SBI), it leaves the door open for the government to know exactly who is funding its opponents. This, in turn, allows the possibility for the government of the day to either extort money, especially from the big companies, or victimize them for not funding the ruling party.
• Post the amendment of the Finance Act 2017, the union government has exempted political parties from disclosing donations received through electoral bonds. The voters will not be able to learn which individual, company or organization has funded which party, and by how much.
• The supreme court has for long held that the ‘right to know’, especially in the context of elections, is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression (Article 19) under the Constitution. Therefore, it compromises the right to know.
• The country needed transparency as far as funding in Indian elections is concerned. The EB scheme’s idea and the way it works is exactly opposite of what was needed for the nation i.e. Transparency!
• It promotes Crony capitalism as the scheme removes all pre-existing limits on political donations and effectively allows well-resourced corporates to fund elections.
• The need of the hour is to plug the loopholes in current laws to make governance machinery more accountable and transparent. Anything that goes against the concept of ‘free and fair elections’ in a thriving democracy as India needs a re-think on how it must work.