Electoral Bonds: Tool For Political Autonomy Or Political Accountability?
The Electoral Bond was designed to act as a bearer instrument and to source the funding of political parties. These bonds are issued in multiples of Rs.1000,Rs. 10,000, Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore. The bond could be purchased by any citizen of India or a body incorporated in India and donated to the party of their choice. The aim of the scheme was to -“cleanse political funding in the country” and to promote cashless economy.
Eligibility to Receive Electoral Bonds
- Party must be registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951
- Party must have secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or assembly election.
- Electoral bonds ensure the anonymity of donor as the political party is not mandated to keep record of its political funding.
- Electoral bonds fall outside the purview of RTI (Right to Information) Act. Recently, State Bank of India (SBI) refused to disclose details of buyers of electoral bonds and the political parties that have redeemed these bonds.
- Since the electoral bonds are issued by a public sector bank, the report it sends to the government regarding details of sales of electoral bonds can be misused to starve funding to the opposition.
- Bring political parties and their funding within the ambit of Right to Information (RTI)
- Voluntary Public disclosure by SBI, of persons who have subscribed to electoral bonds to ensure a free and fair political funding
- Partial funding of state elections as recommended by Indrajit Gupta Committee needs to be explored
- Creation of National Election Fund, open to funding political parties during elections.
- Electoral bonds and their disclosure should be within the purview of Public Accounts Committee