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SC to hear PILs challenging electoral bonds

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SC to hear PILs challenging electoral bonds
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear petitions by the Association of Democratic Reforms and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) challenging amendments to various statutes through the Finance Act 2017-2018 for the issuing electoral bonds for poll funding.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna decided to hear the matter as counsel Prashant Bhushan told the bench that electoral bonds have opened flood gates in violation of government's own notification and EC norms.

Bhushan appeared for one of the petitioner NGOs.

The court will hear the matter on March 26.

The top court had on October 3, 2017, sought a response from the Centre and the Election Commission on corporate funding of political parties through electoral bonds.

The petitioner NGOs have challenged various amendments to the Companies Act, Income Tax Act, Representation of the People Act, Reserve Bank of India Act and Foreign Contribution Regulations Act.

The petitioner NGOs have contended that the consequence of these amendments is that corporates houses can make unlimited donations to political parties and need not even give details of such donations.

Besides this, the annual contribution reports of political parties to be furnished to the Election Commission of India need not mention names and addresses of those contributing by way of electoral bonds, the petition by the NGOs said.

By the amendments under challenge, the earlier limit of 7.5 per cent of the company's average three-year net profit for political donations has been removed.

As a result, the corporates can make unlimited political donations without divulging the name of political parties they are funding.

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