Editorial : Sealed disclosure: SC order on electoral bonds

The Supreme Court order will not alter the influence of electoral bonds on polls
The Supreme Court’s interim order asking political parties to disclose(खुलासा ), to the Election Commission in sealed covers, details of the donations(दान/चंदा) they have received through anonymous(अज्ञातकृत/नामरहित) electoral(चुनावी ) bonds is an inadequate(अपर्याप्त/न्यून) and belated response(प्रतिक्रिया ) to the serious concerns(चिंताओं) raised about the opaque(अपारदर्शी ) scheme.
The scheme, under which one can purchase bonds of various(विभिन्न ) denominations(संप्रदाय/जाति) from a designated(नामित ) bank and deposit them in the accounts of any political party, had been challenged in the apex court a year ago. When the matter was taken up last week, it was considered(माना/विचार करना) that the time available was too limited for an in-depth(गहराई) hearing(सुनवाई). The order, unfortunately(दुर्भाग्य), preserves(बनाए रखता/ जीवित रखना)the status quo, and any effect that the possible(संभव ) asymmetry(विषमता) in political funding would have on the election process will stay as it is. The only concession(छूट/रिआयत) given to those concerned about the dangers of anonymous political funding is that the names would be available with the EC, albeit(हालांकि) in sealed envelopes(लिफाफे), until the court decides if they can be made public. There is some concern that a disproportionately(अनुपातहीन/बेढंगे तौर पर) large segment(खंड/भाग) of the bonds purchased by corporate donors has gone to the Bharatiya Janata Party. This donor anonymity may end if the court decides that the EC should disclose the names at the end of the litigation(मुकदमेबाजी ), but the influence(प्रभाव) such donations would have had on the electoral outcome would remain undisturbed.
The court notes in its order that the case gives rise to “weighty (वजनदार )issues(मुद्दे) which have a tremendous(जबरदस्त /भयंकरbearing(असर/व्यवहार) on the sanctity (निर्मलता/पवित्रता)of the electoral process in the country”. Given this premise(आधार/प्रतिज्ञा), it could be asked whether the judicial(न्यायिक ) intervention(हस्तक्षेप) could not have come earlier. However, all it has done now is to ensure(सुनिश्चित/पक्का करना) that its interim arrangement does not ‘tilt the balance’ in favour of either side. The petitioners(याचिकाकर्ताओं/प्रार्थक), the Association for Democratic Reforms, questioned the anonymity-based funding scheme on the grounds that it promotes opacity(अस्पष्टता), opens up the possibility of black money being donated to parties through shell companies and empowers(सशक्त ) the ruling party(सत्ता पक्ष), which alone is in a position to identify the donors and, therefore, well placed to discourage(हतोत्साहित ) donations to other parties. The government, on the other hand, argued(तर्क करना/उलझ जाना) that electoral bonds would prevent(रोकथाम ) unaccounted(बेहिसाब ) money from entering the system through funding of parties. For the last two decades, the Supreme Court has been proactive(सक्रिय) in empowering voters and in infusing(असीम/उत्तेजित करना ) transparency in the system. It has developed a body of jurisprudence(न्यायशास्त्र ) that says the electoral process involves the voter being given information about candidates, their qualifications, assets(संपत्ति) and crime records, if any. Therefore, it is disappointing(निराशाजनक) to hear the Attorney General arguing that voters do not have a right to know who funds parties. Now that there is no stay on the operation of the scheme, the court must render an early verdict(निर्णय/विचार) on the legality(वैधता) of the electoral bond scheme.

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Designed By : Satnam Gill