Need to find institutional mechanism to protect donor privacy: CEC on scrapping of electoral bond scheme

Public TV English
6 Min Read

NEW DELHI: Days after the Supreme Court rapped the State Bank of India (SBI) for not furnishing the data on political funding through electoral bonds with unique alphanumeric numbers, which could help identify the bond, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar on Saturday said though it was in favour of transparency in matters of political funding, the country needs an institutional mechanism to protect the donor’s privacy.

“The Commission has always been in favour of transparency, right from the time we articulated our stand before the honourable Supreme Court. In a democray, there is no place for hiding things. Democracy is all about making everybody know, being aware, ensuring transparency and requisite information. It (electoral bond data) must be shared. We are all for it,” Kumar said at a press conference in the national capital on Saturday, where he announced the full schedule or roster for the Lok Sabha elections.

The CEC, however, pointed out that protecting the privacy of donors also needs to be considered and an institutional mechanism needs to be found to ensure the same.

“The country now also has to ask and find a solution by way of an institutional mechanism where the donor’s privacy is not compromised,” the CEC stated.

Listing out the efforts taken by the Election Commission to check the involvement of black money by political parties during elections, Kumar said,

“We have made it compulsory for all political parties to declare the donations they are receiving. Every political party is required to make declarations to us on the contributions they receive.”

“Also, they have to state in the annual accounts how much they have collected (through donations) and how much have they spent. Also, after every election, they have to give us an account of what they spent in that particular election. We publish it on our website for everybody to know what’s happening,” he added.

The CEC highlighted that though the poll body takes steps to control black money during elections, it has to find a way to control donations in “unaccounted form”.

“The unaccounted money that is used in the elections is something we are very particular about controlling. But, at the same time, how we also control donations in unaccounted form is something that the entire nation has to work together on,” Kumar said.

“How the donor’s privacy is also protected, he is not harassed, how it is channeled, how it is more and more white,” he added.

The CEC also pointed out that in the digital age, the economy should be less cash-based and, therefore, a “better system” needs to be devised to facilitate political donations in which the privacy of donors is maintained.

“In the digital age, it must be a less cash economy and therefore, one has to think of it. I am sure a better system will evolve,” Kumar said.

The Supreme Court, in a ruling in February, struck down the Centre’s Electoral Bond Scheme, which allowed for anonymous funding to political parties, and ordered the SBI to stop issuing Electoral Bonds immediately.

It had asked SBI to furnish details of each electoral bond encashed by parties, including the date of encashment and the denomination of the bond.
On Monday, the top court dismissed an application of SBI seeking extension of time till June 30 to submit details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission, asking the bank to disclose the details by March 12.

The apex court also directed the poll panel to compile the information to be furnished by the SBI and publish the details on its official website no later than March 15, 2024, by 5 pm.

The chairman of State Bank of India filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Wednesday apprising that in compliance with the court’s order, the date of purchase of each electoral bond, the name of the purchaser and the denomination of the electoral bond purchased have been furnished to the Election Commission.

The Commission said on Thursday that it had, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s direction, uploaded the data on electoral bonds on its website as received from SBI on “as is where is basis”.

An Electoral Bond is an instrument in the nature of a promissory note or bearer bond, which can be purchased by any individual, company, firm or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. The bonds are issued specifically for the purpose of contributing funds to political parties. (ANI)

Share This Article
Exit mobile version