New Delhi

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), one of the petitioners in the electoral bonds case in the Supreme Court, on Friday demanded an investigation by an independent special investigations team (SIT) to establish quid pro quo.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who appeared in the court on behalf of ADR, stressed that the electoral bonds data points to corporates purchasing bonds in return of kickbacks, which needs to be investigated to establish quid pro quo.

“Under the heading Chanda do, Dhandha Lo (Quid Pro Quo) plus Theka Lo, Rishwat Do (Kickbacks) ₹1,751 crore worth of electoral bonds were given to companies who were given contracts worth ₹62,000 crore by BJP governments. This is public money,” he said at a press conference.

Data insights provided by ADR said 41 companies, which faced raids from the ED, Income Tax or the CBI have given ₹2,471 crore to the BJP, of which ₹1,698 crore was given after raids. ₹121 crore was given just in the 3 months immediately after the raids. At least 30 shell companies have donated electoral bonds accounting for over ₹143 crore.

ADR’s Founding Member and Trustee Jagdeep Chhokar said the fight is not for impacting elections, but for bringing transparency in contributions being made to political parties.

Electoral Transparency

“Our prayer said that electoral bonds should be declared unconstitutional. The court made the details public, which is very commendable. We don’t know whether the electoral bonds issue will impact polls, nor do we intend to affect elections. We want political transparency,” he emphasised.

Chokkar pointed out that no one can say that political-corporate nexus does not exist. What about the vote of the poor? This is a natural movement towards strengthening democracy.

“Lot of work is left to be done. For instance, Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd) inquired from the SBI about money spent to publish electoral bonds. It was understood that crores were spent. Who paid that amount? It was paid for by the Finance Ministry. The money with the ministry, I believe is for the public. Companies are giving donations to political parties and the expenses of the process are being paid by the public,” he added.

Anjali Bhardwaj from Common Cause said that it is important to analyse electoral bonds data before April 12, 2019.

“We need to analyse all the information. The Supreme Court made public all information after April 12, 2019. This information was for bonds worth Rs 12,500 crore, while total electoral bonds sold were worth around Rs 16,500 crore. This means that bonds worth Rs 4,500 crore were sold, no information is available on them. We don’t know who bought those bonds. This information is important to establish quid pro quo, corruption and kickbacks,” she added.