Election Commission hopes electoral bonds are step in 'right direction'

Topics Electoral Bond

Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti flanked by Election Commissioners Sunil Arora and OP Rawat announces the schedule for Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland assembly elections, at a press conference in New Delhi | PTI Photo
Months after dubbing its introduction as a "retrograde" step, the Election Commission on Thursday hoped the electoral bonds are a step in the "right direction".

But at the same time, Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti also said the electoral bonds do not solve all problems pertaining to transparency in political funding.

Responding to a series of questions on the possible use of electoral bonds by people to fund parties during assembly polls to Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland, the CEC said the bonds will "definitely" be used as the finance ministry has notified their availability.

"We are hopeful that it will be a step in the right direction," he told a press conference to announce assembly election dates for the northeastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.

Asked 'what has changed' as the commission had earlier expressed reservations on the issuance of electoral bonds, Joti said, "nothing has changed".

"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... Let us get good feedback," he said.

In May last year, the Election Commission had told a parliamentary committee that electoral bonds introduced by the government is a "retrograde" step.

The commission, in a written submission to the parliamentary standing committee on law and personnel, 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 is designed to be a bearer instrument like a promissory note and will be similar to a bank note that is payable to the bearer on demand and free of interest.

It 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 State Bank of India.

Donors can donate the bonds to their party of choice which can then be cashed in 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.

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