Electoral Bonds: Prashant Bhushan Calls for Independent Probe by Supreme Court-monitored SIT
Moneylife Digital Team 12 April 2024
To address what is allegedly the biggest scam or corruption case in India, senior counsel Prashant Bhushan has called for a detailed probe by a special investigation team (SIT) monitored by the Supreme Court (SC) into the electoral bonds case. 
 
Mr Bhushan says, "When the electoral bonds data came out on the directions of the SC, it was found that the majority of the bonds were given as a bribe. Most of the companies gave the bonds to the ruling party of the area and received certain benefits in return. An independent committee should be formed to investigate it."
 
He was speaking at a session on "Implications of the electoral bonds judgment & revelations through subsequent disclosures" organised by the Mumbai Press Club. Right to Information (RTI) activist and member of Common Cause, Anjali Bhardwaj was also present during the session.
 
Mr Bhushan emphasised that State Bank of India (SBI), the lone lender allowed to issue electoral bonds, always knew which bond had been purchased by whom and given to which political party. "SBI is controlled by the Union government; therefore, the government could also easily have known who donated the bonds to whom."
 
The senior counsel accused the Union government of favouring corporates after they donated money through electoral bonds to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He says, "Most of the electoral bonds have been given as quid pro quo arrangements by companies who were getting various favours from governments or from authorities controlled by the government which were in turn controlled by the political parties to whom the bonds were being given. Megha Engineering & Infrastructures was given a contract of Rs14,000 crore for a tunnel from the Maharashtra government, and this contract was given to the company within a month of their donation of Rs140 crore through electoral bonds to BJP."  
 
He alleged that while bidding for the satellite spectrum, Bharti Telecom gave a large number of electoral bonds to BJP. "The government changed the policy from auction to nomination to avoid auction and give it to Bharti Telecom," Mr Bhushan alleged.
 
Further, the senior counsel alleged that the import policy was changed in favour of Grasim Industries and, in return, they provided a large number of electoral bonds to the BJP, which had the authority to alter the policy.
 
 
In February, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court struck down the electoral bonds scheme as 'unconstitutional'. The apex court held that the anonymity of both donors and recipients impinged on citizens' right to information. 
 
SBI, following an order from the Supreme Court, submitted the data on electoral bonds, including names of donors to the election commission of India (ECI). As per the order from the apex court, ECI published the data on its website. 
 
The list of donors who donated money to political parties contains some unusual names like Future Gaming and Hotel Services Pvt Ltd, the top buyer of electoral bonds. The lottery company bought electoral bonds of Rs1,208 crore. Two other entities linked with Future Gaming also bought additional bonds worth Rs160 crore. As expected, the prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi-led BJP received maximum donations worth Rs6,060.51 crore through electoral bonds, almost half of the total contributions made through EBs, which is missing from the data submitted to the ECI. 
 
Among the other top-10 donors are: Hyderbad-based Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Ltd (Rs966 crore), Qwik Supply Chain Pvt Ltd (Rs410 crore), Vedanta Ltd (Rs400 crore), Haldia Energy Ltd (Rs377 crore), Bharti Group (Rs247 crore), Essel Mining & Industries Ltd (Rs224 crore), Western UP Power Transmission Company Ltd (Rs220 crore), Keventer Foodpark Infra Ltd (Rs195 crore) and Madanlal Ltd, which bought electoral bonds worth Rs185 crore.
 
Many of the corporate donors who bought electoral bonds are allegedly being probed by government authorities or have received substantial awards or contracts after making the donations. (Read: Electoral Bonds: Future Gaming, Megha Engineering, Qwik Supply, Vedanta, Haldia, Bharti Group, Essel Mining among Top Donors, BJP Encashed Maximum Bonds Worth Rs6,060.51 Crore)
Comments
villagepoverty
2 months ago
What is electoral bond case? Those who purchased electoral bonds, have paid the money out of their books of accounts. Those who received electoral bonds have entered the amount in their books. The electoral bonds purchasers are being investigated or will be investigated by the Income-tax Department. If the source of the money/investment is not explained, the same will be treated as income under the Income-tax Act, 1961, will be taxed and heavy penalty will be imposed. Income-tax authorities have more than enough powers to tax people and punish them.
tlrchandran49
2 months ago
By her own admission FM has concluded that electoral bonds is an indirect way of bribe collected by all political parties and none is clean. that includes BJP which highlights it is a scam free government
Jambunathan
2 months ago
First thing first. Mr. Prsahant Bhusan is a not a "designated ""Senior Counsel" Kindly correct yourself.
BJP is not the only party that has received donation through Electoral Bond. Almost all major parties have received it. When tht be the case, the reason for limiting the probe to only donations to BJP.
Why only restrict the probe to donation through Electoral Bonds alone?. Political parties have been receiving funds from Companies for a long time. Section 293(d) of Companies Act was enacted specifically by the Congress Government to allow donation by compaies to Polictical parties. Why not the probe be extended all the known donations for the last 50 years. The data from the companies should be verified with the data given by all political parties including the communist at West Bengal.
bhatiahv
Replied to Jambunathan comment 2 months ago
Fully agree.
saran2sai
Replied to bhatiahv comment 2 months ago
Fully agreed
francislmonteiro
2 months ago
Electrolysis bond are money laundering no one should be spared
saran2sai
2 months ago
Looks like Prashant Bhushan continues to have a grouse to settle with Modi Govt. Irrespective of the merits of this EB issue, generally, he continues to oppose all the measures or schemes of this Govt. !
saran2sai
Replied to saran2sai comment 2 months ago
.... however, any good or bad schemes or measures of any Govt. can be poorly executed by the Bureacracy ; so, the review or criticism should be specific to Legislative machinery or executive machinery. If execution is not good for a scheme, only the bureaucracy is to blame.
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