In what is probably the first instance of an electoral trust donating money through electoral bonds, the Paribartan Electoral Trust funded by the MP Birla Group has declared a donation of Rs 3 crore through electoral bonds in 2019-20. The Trust hasn’t revealed the names of the political parties that received this money, citing anonymity guaranteed under the electoral bond scheme.

According to the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), this “practice is against the spirit of the Electoral Trusts Scheme, 2013 and Rule 17CA of the Income Tax Rules, 1962 which make it mandatory for trusts to furnish each and every detail about the donor contributing to the trust”.

“Therefore, if Electoral trusts start adopting this precedent of donating through bonds, which do not permit disclosure norms and discourage transparency rules/laws then it is like going back in time before the Electoral Trusts Scheme, 2013 was incorporated. In such a scenario, it will be a complete mayhem of unfair practices i.e. total anonymity, unchecked and unlimited funding, free flow of black money circulation, corruption, foreign funding, corporate donations and related conflict of interest etc. Such a practice completely negates the very purpose behind the inception of the Electoral Trusts Scheme, 2013 and Rule 17CA of the I.T Rules, 1962,” ADR states in its analysis of contribution reports submitted by seven electoral trusts.

The seven trusts are Satya Electoral Trust, Pratinidhi Electoral Trust, People’s Electoral Trust, Progressive Electoral Trust, Janhit Electoral Trust, Bajaj Electoral Trust and Janpragati Electoral Trust.

BJP has recieved the largest chunk of the donations made by electoral trusts in 2019-20. The saffron party received Rs 276.45 crore or 76.17% of the total donations received by all political parties from Electoral Trusts.

This was followed by the Congress party which received Rs 58 crore or 15.98%% of the total donations received by all parties from all seven electoral trusts.

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