Day 5 Arguments: 20 January 2020

A Bench comprising Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Sanjiv Khanna is hearing a challenge to the electoral bonds scheme.

 

An electoral bond, like a promissory note, is a bearer instrument payable to the bearer on demand. It can be used by individuals and corporations incorporated in India to make donations to political parties. Bonds can be purchased in denominations ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 crore from the State Bank of India using a KYC compliant bank account, with no upper limit on the donation amount. Political parties can encash the bond within 15 days. The identity of the donor is anonymous and only known to the bank.

 

Today, the Bench directed the respondent, the Election Commission of India, to file its reply to the petitioner's stay application within two weeks.

 

The hearing began with Mr. Prashant Bhushan submitting that his client, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), had filed an application to place a stay on the electoral bonds scheme. Chief Justice Bobde inquired whether the respondents had filed a reply to the application. Sr. Adv. Rakesh Dwivedi requested on behalf of the Election Commission for four weeks to file a reply.

 

Mr. Bhushan objected to the Election Commission's request, drawing the Bench's attention to the upcoming Delhi Legislative Assembly elections. He argued that bonds scheme is being illegally opened before state (and the National Capital Territory) elections to favour the ruling party

 

Taking note of Mr. Bhushan's argument, the Chief Justice directed the Election Commission to file its reply within two weeks. After which, he said that the Bench will examine the stay application once the Commission files its reply.

 

(Court reporting by Avinash Amarnath)