Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V, Ramasubramanian, JJ has refused to interfere with the scheme of sale of electoral bonds by the Political Parties challenged on the ground that it allows the donors of political parties to maintain anonymity which is not healthy for a democracy. The Court said that even though the Scheme provides anonymity, it is intended to ensure that everything happens only through banking channels and that,

“All that is required is a little more effort to cull out such information from both sides (purchaser of bond and political party) and do some “match the following”. Therefore, it is not as though the operations under the Scheme are behind iron curtains incapable of being pierced.”

The following prayers were made before the Court:

(i)  A declaration that all national and regional political parties are public authorities under the Right to Information Act, 2005;

(ii) A direction to the Election Commission of India to collect all information concerning the finances of political parties;

(iii) A direction to all national and regional political parties to mandatorily disclose complete details about their income, expenditure, donations and funding as well as full details of the donors.


Explaining the Scheme, the Court said that while the identity of the purchaser of the bond is withheld, it is ensured that unidentified/ unidentifiable persons cannot purchase the bonds and give it to the political parties.

Under clause 7 of the Electoral Bonds Scheme, 2018, buyers have to apply in the prescribed form, either physically or online disclosing the particulars specified therein. Though the information furnished by the buyer shall be treated confidential by the authorised bank and shall not be disclosed to any authority for any purposes, it is subject to one exception namely when demanded by a competent court or upon registration of criminal case by any law enforcement agency. A non-KYC compliant application or an application not meeting the requirements of the scheme shall be rejected.

“If the purchase of the bonds as well as their encashment could happen only through banking channels and if purchase of bonds are allowed only to customers who fulfill KYC norms, the information about the purchaser will certainly be available with the SBI which alone is authorised to issue and encash the bonds as per the Scheme.”

Moreover, any expenditure incurred by anyone in purchasing the bonds through banking channels, will have to be accounted as an expenditure in his books of accounts. The trial balance, cash flow statement, profit and loss account and balance sheet of companies which purchase Electoral Bonds will have to necessarily reflect the amount spent by way of expenditure in the purchase of Electoral Bonds.

Further, the financial statements of companies registered under the Companies Act, 2013 which are filed with the Registrar of Companies, are accessible online on the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for anyone. They can also be obtained in physical form from the Registrar of Companies upon payment of prescribed fee. Since the Scheme mandates political parties to file audited statement of accounts and also since the Companies Act requires financial statements of registered companies to be filed with the Registrar of Companies, the purchase as well as encashment of the bonds, happening only through banking channels, is always reflected in documents that eventually come to the public domain.

The apprehension that foreign corporate houses may buy the bonds and attempt to influence the electoral process in the country was also found to be “misconceived”. Under Clause 3 of the Scheme, the Bonds may be purchased only by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India.

The Court, hence, found no reason to interfere with the Scheme.

[Association for Democratic Reforms v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 266, decided on 26.03.2021]

Appearances before the Court by:

For appellant: Advocate Prashant Bhushan,

For Union of India: Attorney General KK Venugopal

For ECI: Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. disposed of a petition considering the long litigation between the parties and gave directions to the competent authority.

In the present matter, the petitioner was an unemployed divorced lady who got selected for the post of Anganwadi worker but an appeal was made against the same by the Respondent 4 (who has been working on the post for more than 6 years) which even got accepted and the selection was set aside. Being aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner maintained appeal before the learned Divisional Commissioner, which was dismissed. Thereafter, the petitioner against the impugned order passed by the learned Divisional Commissioner maintained writ petition before the Court. Shalini Thakur, counsel for the petitioner argued that since the petitioner was a divorcee, therefore could not be treated as a member of the family for deciding the income of the family, which was taken as the basis for rejection of appointment. And since she is a single mother she had a son to look after all by herself. While the counsels for the respondents S.C. Sharma, Shiv Pal Manhans and P.K. Bhatti, Additional Advocate Generals with Raju Ram Rahi, Deputy Advocate General, contended that the petitioner has given her father’s address, which makes it evident that she was, in fact, residing with her father. And, that the Tehsildar also gave his findings establishing the same. Further, it was also alleged that the petitioner has remarried.

The Court after taking into consideration the long litigation between the parties, the situation of Respondent 4, who is working for more than 6 years on the post and the fact that the petitioner is a divorcee, who cannot be taken as a family member of her father for the purpose of income held and directed that for the interest of justice to be met the competent authority to consider the case of the petitioner for appointment as Anganwadi worker in and around the place of her residence in near future.[Heera Mani v. State of H.P., CWP No. 2772 of 2017, decided on 21-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: Arindam Lodh, J., while highly depreciating the conduct of the State  Public Works Department, directed it to conclude the disciplinary proceeding pending against the writ petitioner within 3 months of the date of the present order.

On the verge of writ petitioner’s retirement, a disciplinary proceeding was initiated against him and article of charges were framed on 29-6-2017 for the incidents which occurred between 2001-2004. The allegations were that the petitioner acted in a manner unbecoming of a government servant during the period as mentioned.

The High Court expressed astonishment as to why the authority concerned initiated the proceeding after a long lapse of time. As per the court, this itself puts a question mark to the fairness of the authority. The Court found it to be aptly clear that the allegations were within the authority’s knowledge at the relevant time. The court was surprised as to why the proceeding was delayed till the fag end of petitioner’s service, i.e. 15 days prior to his retirement. It was said: “the intention of the respondents i.e. authorities concerned is not clear. However, at this stage, I refrain myself to make any opinion in regard to the merits of the proceeding. However, it is observed that there is an absolutely unreasonable delay and serious laches on the part of the authority concerned i.e. the respondents herein. .. This Court highly deprecates the conducts of the respondents.” Considering the matter in entirety, the respondents were directed to complete the proceeding within 3 months from the date of receipt of the present order, failing which the entire proceeding shall automatically be deemed to be dropped. [Tapan Chandra Das v. State of Tripura, WP (C) No. 515 of 2019, dated 08-01-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“Introduction of NOTA will be an anathema to the fundamental criterion of democracy.”

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr D.Y. Chandrachud, while deciding a petition challenging the availability of the option “None of the Above” (NOTA), stated that “it would not only undermine the purity of democracy but also serve the Satan of defection and corruption. ”

The facts of the case pertain to availability of the option of NOTA in the elections held for Rajya Sabha. The petitioner challenged a circular issued in relation to the conduct of elections for the Council of States (Rajya Sabha). He asserted that Election Commission of India had issued directions stating that the option of NOTA could be applicable to elections for the Rajya Sabha, which the petitioner contended to be contrary to Article 80(4) of the Constitution of India and the decision pronounced by the Supreme Court in PUCL v. Union of India, (2013) 10 SCC 1.

On the other hand, contentions, as placed by the respondents, were that the EC had issued a letter which was further reiterated on 12-11-2015 that the option of NOTA would be applicable to elections for Rajya Sabha and as the elections were already conducted, no justification stood for challenging the said direction at such a belated stage.

The Supreme Court, while concluding its decision, emphasized that “In a democracy, the purity of election is categorically imperative”. It opined that on exercising the choice of NOTA in the voting process of the Rajya Sabha, such choice would have a negative impact. Further, it was observed by the Court that provisions for introduction of NOTA as conceived by the Election Commission, on the basis of the judgment mentioned hereinabove, were absolutely erroneous and the introduction of NOTA would certainly lead to the aspect of defection that would indirectly usher in with immense vigour. Holding thus, the Court allowed the petition and quashed the said introduction. [Shailesh Manubhai Parmar v. Election Commission of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1041, decided on 21-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court Of Uttaranchal: A Division Bench comprising of  U.C. Dhyani and  Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ. dismissed a challenge against the appointment of State Chief Information Commissioner. The main challenge in the petition was that the office of the State Chief Information Commissioner has become the ‘dumping ground’ for retired bureaucrats, who are rewarded for their loyalty to the State Government.

The question posed in the writ petition is – whether the state government can defy the mandate of the Union legislature and the spirit of the RTI Act by appointing Chief Information Commissioner to favour certain officers, who have retired, or are due to retire in the near future?

The contention put up by the petitioner is that according to Section 15(1) of RTI Act, the requirement of the appointment of a retired bureaucrat is not a necessity, rather it prescribes the requirement is of a person shall be eminent in public life with wide knowledge and experience in particular field.

Further, it has been stated by the Hon’ble Court, that, Court cannot sit in judgment over the wisdom of the government in the choice of person to be appointed as long as the person satisfies all the eligibility criteria along with the process prescribed. Therefore, it has been observed by the court that the writ of quo Warranto cannot be issued unless there is a clear violation of law and here clearly the appointment has is not contrary to the statutory rules.

Concluding the judgment, the Hon’ble Court while agreeing to the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner in the matter of appointments to higher echelons, fairness should be the hallmark of selection, it does not find any illegality or irregularity in the appointment of the State Chief Information Commissioner, it also hoped that in the future, the persons of eminence will be drawn from these walks of life also. [Chandra Shekhar Kargeti v. State Of Uttarakhand; 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 29, order dated 10-01-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Court recently dealt with a Criminal Original Petition filed under Sec. 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure wherein the petitioner prayed for quashing the final report/ charge-sheet of the Judicial Magistrate and for fresh re-investigation into the case.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner was abused with obscene words assaulted, criminal intimidated and caused injuries by unlawful assembly of eight persons. The petitioner was rushed to the hospital, where the Police arrived on intimation by the above said Government Hospital. The Sub-Inspector of Police/respondent went to that Hospital and recorded the statement of the petitioner and thereupon, the above SI registered the First Information Report.

The counsel for the petitioner argued that despite having mentioned to the SI about the exact acts that had been carried out on her by the accused persons, the respondent subverted the entire prosecution case to “wreck and demolish by fabricating statements of witnesses” including that of the petitioner. The report highlighted that the petitioner was a quarrelsome woman and excluded four persons alleged by the petitioner to be amongst the perpetrators of violence against her, from the final report/charge sheet.

The counsel for the respondent submitted that the de-facto complainant was not happy with the investigation conducted by the respondent despite the investigation having been carried out by him in a fair manner and hence, did not warrant any interference by this Court.

The Court noticed that the Assistant Surgeon’s version of the facts were in sync with the allegations put forward by the petitioner in the First Information Report which was recorded by the SI of Police, who was also a prosecution witness. The Court also noticed that the petitioner had mentioned to the surgeon about the involvement of 8 persons in the alleged incident that had taken place but somehow the 4th accused was listed as a witness by the Investigation Officer, which to the Court seemed unjustifiable.

This Court was thus of the view that the present final report was a demolition of the prosecution case, which would render only the dismissal of the prosecution case, which in turn, would result in acquittal of the accused. This Court thus declared that the investigation said to have been carried on in the FIR, lacked fairness and hence, the same was not legally sustainable and was liable to be interfered with. [Rathinammal v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 3508 , decided on 17.08.2017]