The Election Commission will take a final view in the next few days on whether all its worries on electoral bonds have been addressed, newly-appointed Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said today.
The Election Commission will take a final view in the next few days on whether all its worries on electoral bonds have been addressed, newly-appointed Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said today, days after the poll panel had flagged certain concerns over the government’s move to issue such bonds to fund political parties. He said the EC Secretariat is going through the finance ministry notification announcing the electoral bond scheme “threadbare” and would be ready with its report in the next two days. “When the commission meets and decides as to what concerns have already been met and what are remaining, then our final view will emerge and we will respond to the scheme accordingly,” he told PTI. Today was Rawat’s first day in office as CEC. Asked whether the EC will will raise the remaining concerns with the government, he responded in the affirmative. “Sure, sure. Whatever is needed to be done will be done,” he said. He said when the Finance Bill was brought with this provision, the Commission had flagged certain concerns. After that there was a meeting in the finance ministry which EC’s DG (Expenditure) had attended. Though some discussions took place, the scheme was not formulated at that time.
“Then finally, the scheme was notified 15 days ago. We got the notification about 10 days back. Our secretariat is examining threadbare as to what are the imports vis-a-vis our suggestions and issues. I think their examination may be complete in a day or two. Then they would be bringing up the issue with the commission,” he said. To a query, he said the issue being examined also includes cash donations of up to Rs 2000 and a move which allows political parties not to report donations up to Rs 20,000. Electoral bonds will not solve all problems pertaining to transparency in political funding, the then Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti had said last week while hoping that it will be a step in the “right direction”.
Electoral bonds, which were introduced by the government to make funding to political parties transparent, will allow a political donor to purchase bonds from authorised banks and can be redeemed by parties only through registered accounts in a prescribed time frame. “There will be a banking trail of the donations which will be made. That is one step in the right direction. I have not said it will solve all the problems… Let it (bonds) be rolled out..,” he had said, when asked if the usage of these bonds will address issues pertaining to transparency in funding of political parties.
The commission, in a written submission to the parliamentary standing committee on law and personnel in May, had said changes made in the election laws after the introduction of the bonds would compromise transparency in political fundings. “The amendment in section 29 C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 making it no longer necessary to report details of donations received through electoral bonds is a retrograde step as transparency of political funding would be compromised as a result of the change,” it had said. An electoral bond can be purchased by any citizen of India or a body incorporated in India.
The bonds will be issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore, and will be available at specified branches of the State Bank of India. Donors can donate the bonds to their party of choice which can then be cashed via the party’s verified account within 15 days. Every party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or assembly election will be allotted a verified account by the Election Commission. Electoral bond transactions can be made only via that account.