Why Electoral Bond Scheme should be declared unconstitutional?

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Synopsis: The electoral bonds scheme violates the core principles of the Indian Constitution. It must be declared unconstitutional by the courts.

  • The Electoral Bond Scheme was notified by the Government of India in 2018.
  • For the last three years, electoral bonds have been the dominant method of political party funding in India.
  • It allows for limitless and anonymous corporate donations to political parties.
  • Anonymous electoral funding of elections without any limit is against the democratic electoral process. It violates core principles of the Indian Constitution.
  • So, petitions were filed in the supreme court to scrap the unconstitutional Electoral Bond Scheme.
Why the Electoral Bond Scheme is unconstitutional?

The electoral bond scheme is unconstitutional because it,

      • Violates the right to know of the citizens.
      • Provides a way for uncapped political donations,
      • Violate equality before the law.
      • Against multi-party democracy.
      • Provides a source for black money in elections.
  • Firstly, it violates the fundamental rights of citizens- the Right to Know. The Supreme Court has stated that the “right to know”, is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression under the Indian Constitution.
  • Secondly, it will give rise to a Corporate-political nexus. It has been largely accepted that across democratic societies, money is the most effective way of buying a policy. Due to a lack of information on the source of funds, it is impossible to assess whether a government policy is designed to benefit its funders.
  • Thirdly, limitless and anonymous donations increase the role of money in politics. It will hamper the healthy functioning of Democracy.
  • Fourthly, it creates unequal contests between the Opposition and the ruling party. Since the donations are channeled through the State Bank of India, it is possible for the government to find out the source of donations of opposition.
    • Government has the power to restrict donations to rival political parties. For example, in the last three years, the ruling party has received more donations compared to other parties.
  • Fifthly, it will result in increasing institutional corruption. The electoral bonds scheme allows even foreign donations to political parties. This is also against the defense of the government that states the purpose of the electoral bonds scheme is to prevent the flow of black money into elections.
What is the role of courts and how they have responded?
  • In a functioning democracy, the role of an independent judiciary is to protect the fundamentals of the democratic process.
  • The courts need to be cognizant of the laws and rules that violate the democratic process.
  • Despite the Electoral Bond Scheme creating unequal competition, and seeking to enforce one-party rule over multi-party democracy, the judiciary has remained silent.
  • The petition challenging the constitutional validity of the electoral bonds scheme was filed in 2018. But it has been left unheard for three years.

What is the way forward?

  • First, to reduce the role of money in elections, public money should be used for funding elections. This will create a level playing field among the political parties contesting elections.
  • Second, there needs to be caps or limits on financial contributions to political parties.
  • Third, the judiciary should fast-track cases that are vital to the future health of Indian democracy.
  • Fourth, the Electoral Bond Scheme that gives undue advantage to the ruling party needs to be declared unconstitutional.

The entire purpose of democracy, which as B.R. Ambedkar rightly pointed out, was not just to guarantee one person, one vote, but one vote one value.

Source: The Hindu

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