|TOPICS: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act…
Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability(PAPER2)
- “The electoral bond in more opaque than transparent”. Comment.
An electoral bond is designed to be a bearer instrument like a Promissory Note in effect; it will be similar to a bank note that is payable to the bearer on demand and free of interest. It can be purchased by any citizen of India or a body incorporated in India.
The bonds will be issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs10, 000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs10 lakh and Rs 1 crore and will be available at specified branches of State Bank of India. Donors can donate the bonds to their party of choice, who has secured at least 1% of the votes in legislative or parliament election, which can then be cashed in via the party’s verified account within 15 days
Government view regarding the Scheme:
- The political parties are debarred to take the cash above Rs 2,000. The donations made by the bond will track the black money or Hawala money of the donor though KYC norms of the Scheme.
- As for political parties, they no longer need to reveal the donor’s name for contributions provided these are in the form of electoral bonds which protect the donating paty from political hunt.
- It will increase transparency in the election funding which is necessary for sovereignty and integrity of the nation.
Bone of contention regarding the scheme:
- However, critics argue that this has made political funding more opaque since there is no way of knowing who donated and how much to a political party. There is also no cap on the quantum of electoral bonds.
- When there is no ceiling on party expenditure and the EC (Election Commission) cannot monitor it, how can it be sure that what is coming in is not black money as there is secrecy of the donor? Even foreign money can come and even a dying company can give money now.
- Neither the donor nor the political party receiving the donation is mandated to disclose the donor’s identity. Therefore, not only will, the shareholders of a corporation be unaware of the company’s contributions, but the voters too will have no idea of how, and through whom, a political party has been funded.
- The scheme is equally destructive in its subversion of the fundamental rights to equality and freedom of expression. Judiciaries have consistently seen “freedom of voting”, as a facet of the right to freedom of expression and as an essential condition of political equality. In the absence of complete knowledge about the identities of those funding the various different parties, it’s difficult to conceive how a citizen can meaningfully participate in political and public life.
The way forward:
The electoral bond scheme, a misnomer, as it is not a bond in real sense, was passed in the parliament as a money bill without involving the stakeholder like Rajya sabha, the Election Commission etc.
This has led to the many loopholes in the scheme. For the sovereignty and integrity of the Nation, the election process including its funding should be transparent. The bill should as an ordinary bill under the amendement to Representation of the people’s act(RPA act) so that a holistic discussion would take place to involve all the stakeholder.
SOURCE: LIVE MINT, THE HINDU, THE TELEGRAPH https://www.livemint.com/opinion/quick-edit/opinion-clearly-the-electoral-bond-scheme-has-failed-1555078417301.html
|TOPICS: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes;(PAPER 2)|
- HAS The Supreme Court ruling over forest Right Act, 2006 has undermined Right to life over right to Environment? Comment
In India for centuries, forests have been used by human beings for a variety of purposes — from habitat to a store of food to sources of livelihood. Anywhere between 100 million to 300 million people, mostly tribes, live in and around forests. They are poor and undernourished, with little education and access to healthcare. They depend on the forests for living and livelihoods. They have always lived in harmony within the ecosystem of forests.
It was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the British began to treat forests as wasteland that could be used for extending agricultural production of commercial crops. Forests could also be used as a source of timber for export.
Timber was extensively used in railway sleepers during the rapid expansion of railway tracks.
To consolidate the colonial government’s hold on the forest land and resources, the Indian Forest Act of 1927 was passed. According to it, there were three categories of forests: reserved, protected and village.
A reserved forest could be notified on any tract of forest or wasteland not belonging to the government. In such a forest, nothing was permitted unless allowed by the government. Forest officials became the real controllers. Protected forests were notified areas where trees, or a class of trees and, much later, some endangered species were preserved. The government was allowed to assign rights for using a part of a reserve forest (usually adjacent to a village) to be used by the local community.
The government could ‘create’ forestland; exploit it according to need, and the original forest dwellers became trespassers in their own land, living at the mercy of forest officials.
Concern regarding Forest right act:
- The claim of rights is based on past evidence of residence and connections with forests. But even after 13 years of the enactment only 3 per cent of the claims have been settled. A large number of claims have been rejected.
- Generally for a genuine forest dweller it is difficult to provide legally acceptable documents and also false claims could also be made to enter the forest and use resources for commercial purposes.
- This has led to eviction of many forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDSTs) and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFDs) .
- This led to the encroachment of their right to life and also fuels the Left wing Extremism.
- Forest officials have been given almost unlimited powers by which the repression of tribal people and forest dwellers will increase many times.
- The officials will have powers to take away the rights of the people, pay arbitrary compensation, imprison them, and use firearms on duty without having to explain why they did so. They cannot be arrested on any deemed offence they committed while on duty
There should be a sustainable and a balanced relationship between forest communities and protection of the environment. The condition and extent of forest cover in India, the lives of 300 million people and the privileges of the rich backed by State power will be locked in a three-cornered struggle. The forests and the poor people had lived in harmony for centuries.
The International conventions like the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the UN Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Populations (1957) and the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People are binding on India.