The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it will hear a batch of petitions against the Electoral Bonds Scheme on October 31.
A bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra heard the preliminary submissions on Tuesday.
The bench in its order said that the preliminary submissions have been made from the petitioner as well as the Attorney General for India (AGI). It further directed that any more submissions to be made should be filed by Saturday.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan representing the petitioners urged the court to hear the matter soon saying that due to the pendency of the decision in the matter, the electoral bonds are being issued before the upcoming Assembly elections.
On this, AGI R. Venkatramani interjected and said that one of the issues raised in the petitions is that the Electoral Bonds Schemes were brought in via the money bill route and the issue pertaining to money bills was to be heard by the soon to be constituted seven-judge constitutional bench in the case of Rojer Mathews.
Bhushan argued that the money bill was one of the issues raised in the plea and the other issues need to be settled independently from the money bill.
In his preliminary submission before the apex court, Bhushan argued that the anonymous funding of political parties violated the citizens’ Right to Information and promoted corruption. He went on to add that a corruption-free society is a facet of the right to life under Article 21.
The CJI asked if the matter needed to be heard along with the money bill.
Bhushan said that the matter be heard along with the money bill issue only if the Rojer Mathew case was settled by December 2023.
However, the CJI said that it may be difficult to predict as the matters are listed for pre-hearing on October 12.
Bhushan then stated that the petitioners would argue the matter without the money bill issue.
The bench said that the matter will be heard on November 1 as well in case the hearing does not conclude on October 31.
The petitions challenging the Electoral Bonds Schemes were filed in 2017.
The scheme was introduced by the Centre through the amendments made to the Finance Act of 2017
Several petitions are pending before the apex court challenging amendments through the Finance Act, 2017 alleging that they have opened doors to unchecked funding for political parties.