New Delhi: In a significant development, the Supreme Court today asked all parties to furnish receipts and details of funds and donors in a sealed cover to the Election Commission by May 30. The details, however would be kept in the "safe custody" of EC, the top court ruled in an interim order.
A petition by the Association of Democratic Reforms had asked for the system of electoral bonds to be stopped or for the donors to be disclosed for the sake of transparency in the poll process.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said, all political parties must forthwith give to EC in sealed cover details of their bank accounts in which the donations were received through electoral bonds, the name of the donors and the amounts so received till date.
" We examined the stand by the Election Commission. For the present, it needs hearing and it can't be concluded in a short span of time. The court has to ensure interim arrangement and should not tilt favour of any party," Gogoi added.
The court also directed the finance ministry to reduce the window of the purchase of electoral bonds from 10 to five days in April-May, the period during which staggered national elections are being held.
According to reports, total donations received by BJP in 2016-17 was Rs 997 crore. Of the total, the party declared Rs 529 crore before the EC which showed that it received Rs 468 crore in cash donations, each below Rs 20,000, from anonymous persons.
In the same period, Congress received Rs 180 crore in donations of which Rs 138 crore was through small donations from anonymous persons.
BJP received Rs 997 crore and Rs 990 crore through donations in 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively, five times more than what Congress received in the same period, the Election Commission told the Supreme Court on Thursday.