Skip to main content

Govt of India, Election Commission have "no information" on Electoral Bonds scheme for political parties, RTI plea reveals

By Our Representative
The Union Finance Ministry, the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have all claimed in separate replies to a Right to Information (RTI) plea that they do not have any information about the Electoral Bond (EB) scheme, or who influenced the Government of India to launch such the controversial scheme.
Announced in the Annual Budget in February, 2017, The Government of India amended three laws relating to elections, income tax and RBI to create this new method of making monetary donations to political parties. Briefly explained, anybody would be able to buy EBs in the form of bearer bonds from a designated commercial bank for any sum of money and donate it anonymously to a political party that he, she or it (private entity) chooses.
A donor could have these bonds hand delivered through one's chauffeur or gardener and the recipient political party would not be required by law to ask any questions.
Prompted by the fact that everybody in the establishment forgot to consult the primary stakeholder, the voter-taxpayer-citizen, well-known RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak filed an RTI application with the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) in the Ministry of Finance, seeking the following information:
  1. Total number of representations or petitions or communications received by the Government of India from donors regarding the need for maintaining confidentiality of their identity while making donations to political parties;
  2. Photocopy of these representations or petitions or communication; and
  3. Photocopy of the Draft Electoral Bond Scheme prepared by the department for consultation with RBI and ECI.
After refusing to reply to Nayak, who is with the advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), and appeal to a higher authority, DEA transferred the RTI application to ECI and Department of Financial Services (DFS), saying that the subject matter of EB does not pertain to it. DFS also transferred the RTI application to RBI.
"Eventually, both ECI and RBI replied that they did not have any information sought in the RTI application", Nayak said in an email alert to Counterview, adding, "It appears that the records relating to the draft EB scheme are themselves being held in great secrecy. Nobody wants to acknowledge that they did any work on it."
Calling EB "a sovereign guarantee of donor secrecy for political party funding", Nayak says, the amendments "remove the obligation of political parties to record and report the identity of EB-style donors to both regulatory bodies, namely, ECI and Income Tax Department."
Pointing out how the transparency regime has been changed, Nayak says, as of today, private corporations donating up to 7.5% of their average net profits made during the immediately preceding three financial years had to be approved by a Resolution of the Board of Directors.
"Every private company making such donations is required to publicly disclose in its profit and loss account how much money is donated to which political party in a given year. The Finance Act, 2017 removes all these transparency requirements from Section 182 of the Companies Act, 2013. April 2018 onwards, a private corporation will be able to make donations from day 1 without starting commercial operations, let alone earning profits", he says.
Nayak adds, "There will be no obligation to publicly disclose the amount so donated and the identity of the recipient political party. Only the total sum of money so donated will be reflected in the profit and loss account of the company every year. So EBs are likely to become the preferred route for such companies to make donations to political parties of their choice and escape public scrutiny."

Comments

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

JP advised RSS to give up Hindu Rashtra, disband itself: Ex-IAS officer tells Modi

Counterview Desk
Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, People-First, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death anniversary (October 11) has wondered whether he remembers “a patriot called Jayaprakash Narayan”. Recalling what JP thought on issues such as communalism, freedom, democracy, Hindutva etc., Devasahayam says, Modi has been been doing “the very opposite of the principles and values for which JP lived and died.”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

UP chief secretary, DGP have 'surrendered' to political diktat: 92 retired IAS, IPS officials

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, 92 retired IAS, IFS and IPS bureaucrats, commenting on “blatant violations of the rule law” following the Hathras incident, have blamed that the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police for abjectly failing to exercise control over a “highly compromised” administration the state.

Hathras reflects Manu's mindset dominates: 'Women are false, it's in their nature to seduce'

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
The woman died and then we woke up to protest. She was alive for two weeks after the heinous incident. Many of us even didn’t notice what had happened at Hathras, how she fought during the next 15 days. Those who noticed, many of them were not sure what actually had happened. So much so, we as a nation were more busy in finding out who among the Bollywood actresses were taking drugs, who smoked weed, who had ‘inappropriate’ or more than one relationship, what kind of private conversations they had in their chat boxes and what not!

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Delhi riots: Even British didn't accuse Bhagat Singh of reading Lenin, Jack London

By Vikash Narain Rai*
After the #BlackLifeMatters movement seriously tested the credibility of police across America, the Houston police chief Art Acevado talked of ending “lawful but awful” policing. No comparison, but in India, a citizens’ committee comprising former top judges and bureaucrats is now set to inquire into the role of the state machinery and media in handling the February 2020 Delhi violence, which followed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “as the investigation by the Delhi Police has evoked extensive critical commentary in recent times.”

Human rights 'abuses': Funding to India should be vetted, Greens tell Australian govt

Counterview Desk
A roundtable organised by Australian Greens, which is the third biggest political group in the country, held to discuss human rights situation in India at the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney has insisted that parliamentarians, human rights activists and lawyers should play a more active role “standing up for human rights not just in their own places but also in India.”

Degrading conditions amidst Covid-19: Toxic ship at Alang, Gujarat, 'endangers' migrants

Counterview Desk
Evironmental activist Dr Gopal Krishna, who edits the ToxicsWatch journal, in an open letter to the chairman, Ship Breaking Scrap Committee, Union Ministry of Shipping, with copies to the joint secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping and other Government of India ministries* has said that there exists “threat to Indian maritime environment and security from viral diseases like Covid-19 from ballast water and toxic substances.”