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Electoral Bonds: CJI to take call on listing of plea seeking SIT probe into quid pro between corporates and political parties

02:05 PM May 14, 2024 IST | 8PM News Desk
electoral bonds  cji to take call on listing of plea seeking sit probe into quid pro between corporates and political parties
Electoral Bonds: CJI to take call on listing of plea seeking SIT probe into quid pro between corporates and political parties

New Delhi [India]: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the Chief Justice of India will take a call on the listing of a petition seeking a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the alleged instances of quid pro quo arrangements between corporates and political parties through Electoral Bonds donations.

"Don't worry that matter is with the CJI, Secretariat, they will be fixing a date," said a bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna before whom advocate Prashant Bhushan mentioned the plea for an early hearing.

The petition filed by NGOs Common Cause and the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) had sought direction to the authorities to investigate the source of funding of shell companies and loss-making companies to various political parties, as has been disclosed through the electoral bonds data.

The petition further sought direction to the authorities to recover the amounts from political parties as donated by companies to these parties as part of quid pro quo arrangements where these are found to be proceeds of crime. It alleged that a scam worth crores of rupees is involved in the Electoral Bonds matter, which can be unravelled only through an independent investigation under the monitoring of the apex court.

Seeking SIT probe to be supervised by a retired Supreme Court judge, the petitioners said, "The investigation in this case would not only need to unravel the entire conspiracy in each instance, which would involve officers of the company, officials of the government and functionaries of political parties but also the officers concerned of agencies like the ED/IT and CBI etc., who appear to have become part of this conspiracy."

The plea alleged that data that was disclosed to the public after the top court struck down the anonymous Electoral Bonds scheme showed that the bulk of the bonds appear to have been given as quid pro quo arrangements by corporates to political parties either to secure government contracts or licenses, or to secure protection from investigations by CBI,

Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate, or as consideration of favourable policy changes.

They also alleged that several pharma companies, which were under regulatory scanner for manufacturing substandard drugs, also purchased Electoral Bonds. Such arrangements of quid pro quo are in clear violation of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, it added.
The Supreme Court by its February verdict, struck down the Electoral Bonds Scheme, which allowed for anonymous funding to political parties, and ordered the SBI to stop issuing Electoral Bonds immediately.

It had unanimously quashed the Electoral Bonds scheme as well as amendments made to the Income Tax Act and the Representation of People Act which had made the donations anonymous.

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