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SC to hear pleas challenging Electoral Bonds Scheme on October 31

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday posted for hearing on October 31 a batch of pleas challenging the central government's Electoral Bond Scheme which provides for funding to political parties.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud with Justices JB Paridwala and Manoj Misra said it will hear the arguments in the case on October 31 and if the hearing does not conclude on that day, it will continue on November 1 as well.
"Petitioner's counsel and Attorney General have made preliminary submissions. Compilations have been filed. If further submissions are to be made, it is to be filed by October 27. Soft copies are to be compiled by nodal counsel. Matter to be listed for final hearing on October 31 and should there be a spill over it shall continue till November 1," the bench said in its order.
As the issue regarding the money bill is yet to be decided by the seven-judge bench, the petitioners told the apex court that they would not argue on the Electoral Bond Scheme having been passed as a money bill as of now.
An Electoral Bond is an instrument in the nature of a promissory note or bearer bond which can be purchased by any individual, company, firm or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. The bonds are issued specifically for the purpose of contributing funds to political parties.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Association for Democratic Reforms, told the bench that "the anonymous nature of the funding" also promoted corruption as it allowed companies, who had received certain benefits from the government of certain parties, to anonymously donate to those political parties.
He argued that amendments made via Finance Acts of 2016 and 2017, both passed as Money Bills, have through the Electoral Bonds Scheme, "opened the floodgates to unlimited political donations".
In October last year, the Centre in an affidavit had said that the methodology of the Electoral Bonds Scheme is "completely transparent" mode of political funding and it is impossible to get black money or unaccounted money.
Various petitions are pending before the top court challenging amendments made to different statutes through Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2016 on the ground that they have opened doors to "unlimited, unchecked funding" of political parties.
NGOs - Association of Democratic Reforms and Common Cause - have said that the Finance Bill, 2017, which paved the way for the introduction of the Electoral Bond Scheme, was passed as a money bill even though it did not qualify to be so.

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