National

EC raises concern over electoral bonds

Bloomberg New Delhi | Updated on March 28, 2019 Published on March 28, 2019

India’s new campaign finance rules allowing anonymous donations have reduced transparency in political funding, the Election Commission of India said, according to people familiar with a filing in the country’s top court.

The EC — one of the respondents in a case filed against the new funding rules — said anonymous donations will have serious repercussions and impact on the transparency of political funding, the people said, asking not to be identified as the affidavit is not public.

The court is hearing petitions challenging the introduction of electoral bonds and seeking a ban on cash donations filed by Association for Democratic Reforms, a non-government organisation.

The commissions statement, seen by Bloomberg, comes weeks ahead of general elections in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term. Modi came to power in 2014 promising a crackdown on corruption.

The Election Commission’s comments and any adverse ruling from the top court may dent the anti-graft credentials of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Election Commissions spokeswoman Sheyphali Sharan did not answer two calls made to her mobile phone.

Electoral bonds

The changes in law allow anonymous donations through electoral bonds which can be bought at a bank in denominations ranging from 1,000 rupees to Rs 1 crore and given to a political party, which can exchange them for cash. They do not carry the name of the donor and are exempt from tax.

The government has claimed that the changes will cleanse political funding. The move was criticised for allegedly legalising large anonymous donations that can potentially lead to businesses and foreign companies gaining influence over the elections that start on April 11.

The Election Commission said the rule allowing political parties to receive donations from foreign companies having majority stake in an Indian company would allow unchecked foreign funding of political parties in India, which could lead to Indian policies being influenced by foreign companies.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on April 2.

Published on March 28, 2019

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.