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CEC urged to intervene in matter of electoral bonds

VISAKHAPATNAM: Former Union energy secretary EAS Sarma has sought the intervention of the Chief Election Commissioner with regard to notification issued by the Ministry of Finance on Monday on encashment of electoral bonds.

In a letter written to CEC Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner AC Pandey, he said the notification was ill-timed, improper, amounting to the ruling political party openly flouting the Model Code of Conduct, ignoring the ongoing proceedings before the apex court and enlarging the window for it to continue to receive donations in a highly non-transparent manner, disturbing the level playing ground between itself and the other political parties.

As an authority owing its existence to Article 324 of the Constitution and having the responsibility of conducting elections in a free and fair manner, the Election Commission is empowered to take stringent and deterrent action on the notification as otherwise it would be passively giving licence to the political executive to ride roughshod over the sanctity of the electoral process, he observed.

It is significant that the notification was issued at a time when the Model Code of Conduct is in force in connection with the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. It is equally significant that such notification was issued at a time when the legality of the electoral bond scheme itself is under judicial scrutiny before the apex court, he mentioned.

The Ministry of Finance which issued the extraordinary notification, has apparently neither shown due respect for the ongoing judicial proceedings nor it has cared to respect the sanctity of the Model Code of Conduct, he opined.

Going by the past track record of the electoral bond scheme, it has so far helped the political party in power at the Centre to fill its coffers for electioneering, much more than the other political parties. Also, the scheme appears to have provided an anonymous channel for business houses to fund political parties, in return for questionable quid pro quo, including tweaking of official policies and regulations to help them maximise their profits at the cost of public interest.

An independent investigation into the source of funding of the scheme, the parties that benefited and the changes in policies and regulations that helped the donors will corroborate the position, he felt.