[This article is authored by Akshat Bhushan, a student at the Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur and Avishek Mehrotra, a student at the Symbiosis Law School, Pune. It attempts to give an account of the Indian electoral funding regime with special reference to the introduction of the electoral bond scheme.]
The electoral competition in India comprises millions of voters, thousands of candidates and parties, making it a costly affair. The latest development in this regard is the incorporation of the electoral bonds scheme and the corresponding amendments through the Finance Act, 2017. Although the amendments were subject to criticism by the Election Commission of India, the Reserve Bank of India, and several intellectuals, yet it did not receive much public attention. Even the Apex Court exercised judicial evasion by passing an interim order and postponing the hearing of the matter sine die. The authors in this paper aim to present an in-depth analysis of the Indian system of political funding, with a primary focus on the electoral bond scheme, which has drawn the exiguous attention of the general masses. The authors first elucidate upon the two basic postulates of political funding (a) contributors and (b) disclosures. They then explain the anomalies underlying the political funding regimes prior to the Finance Act, 2017, followed by an analytical account of the electoral bond scheme along with the amendments made to the laws regulating party funding. The authors further delve into the constitutional validity of the electoral bond scheme and its corresponding amendments. In the concluding remarks, the authors have acknowledged the fact that despite the brazen misuse of the provisions as they stood before the amendment, there existed some accountability on part of the parties. However, merely scraping down the amendments made would not suffice and there is an ardent need to come up with a transparent system, ensuring accountability on the part of the parties as well as its contributors.