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The Supreme Court will pass an order on the validity of electoral bonds scheme on Friday. The court on Thursday heard the arguments from the Centre, Election Commission (EC) and the petitioners.

At today’s hearing, Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal appearing for Centre, Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi appearing for EC and Senior Adv Prashant Bhushan appearing for petitioner NGO, Association of Democratic Reforms argued before the bench comprising of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta, Sanjiv Khanna.

AG started submissions and handed over copy of the features of electoral bonds highlighting the process involved in the use of electoral bonds.

“Black money is the bane of corruption and it is not generated only during elections. Therefore the bench should decide this matter taking into account all the issues at hand,” AG said.

CJI questioned: “Once the electoral bond is issued it has a number, so is the identity of the purchaser available to the bank?”

AG answered: “There is a KYC and a number is allotted and kept in a sealed cover. The number can be found out through communication and verification of the sealed cover.”

CJI said: “The bank issues an electoral bond on an application of XYZ. If the identity of the purchaser of the bond who deposits crores of rupees and the identity of the purchaser is not known the entire argument of doing away with black money is gone and the black becomes white. If the identity of Shell Company is not known then the income tax is determined on the returns and it is not known.”

Justice Khanna also added: “KYC is only an identity of person but the transaction is not known where black is converted into white money.

Venugopal said: “Even if electoral bonds will not exist black money will exist there will be instances of shell companies converting black money into white money.”

To which the CJI asked: “Our question has still not been answered. Which bond has gone to whom the bank doesn’t know.”

Justice Khanna also asked: “Therefore as far as transparency is concerned there will be none.”

In between the arguments, Senior Adv Rakesh Dwivedi interrupted: “I know how many total numbers of bonds encashed by a party is available.”

CJI told Dwivedi: “But there is no proviso which gives you this information. The question which we are putting to you is that are you better off or worse off the bank and the answer is you are worse off because you know nothing.”

Justice Deepak Gupta asked: “Which party is being funded by who should be known to the people.”

Venugopal replied: “Transparency cannot be looked upon as a mantra for everything. One has to analyse things. Why will the voters be bothered as to who is funding which political party. The voters are concerned of the candidates. Disclosure would lead to victimization of the person who has funded a party and that party does not come to power and the opposite party comes to power.”

Senior Advocate Bhushan said: “There is no connection with black money. There is nothing in the existing electoral bond scheme to prevent black money or donation of black money. Now you have an additional channel to fund political parties anonymously. Earlier only cash was given but now through banking channels one can fund anonymously. If this would be a correct justification then there would be no 95% of electoral bond funding to the ruling party and other party would also get substantial amount of funds.”

—India Legal Bureau

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