Companies bribed political parties through electoral bonds to secure projects: Prashant Bhushan

Ranchi, May 12 (PTI) Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan on Sunday alleged that companies used electoral bonds to bribe political parties to secure projects worth lakhs of crores of rupees.

He said a petition has been filed before the Supreme Court, seeking an independent probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the alleged nexus between political parties and companies for corruption through electoral bonds.

“The Rs 16,500 crore electoral bond donations that companies gave to political parties were merely bribes or kickbacks in exchange for which contracts or projects worth lakhs of crores were given to the companies in quid pro quo arrangements,” Bhushan alleged in a press conference here.

Bhushan and social activist Anjali Bhardwaj were in Ranchi as part of their awareness campaign regarding electoral bonds and bringing transparency in political funding. Bhushan said they have visited 11 states before Jharkhand.

“Of the Rs 16,500 crore electoral bonds, half went to the BJP and the rest to parties like the TMC and the Congress. However, parties that do not rule any state did not get any money,” he claimed.

In a landmark judgement, the apex court in February this year struck down the electoral bonds scheme, terming it unconstitutional.

“Several companies that were under the scanner of the ED, CBI and I-T department gave donations to the ruling party and became free from probe. Some pharmaceutical firms that were manufacturing sub-standard and life-threatening drugs as per the drug controller, were allowed in the market as they had issued electoral bonds to the BJP and some other parties ruling different states,” he alleged.

Bhushan said they had challenged the electoral bonds on three grounds, that it promotes corruption, encourages bribe and disrupts level playing field.

Bhushan said that NGOs Common Cause and Center for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) moved a petition in the Supreme Court to uncover the biggest scam and expose the companies that used bonds as bribe to political parties.

While Bhushan had appeared for the petitioners in the electoral bonds case, Bhardwaj is a member of Common Cause.

“If the bonds were used as bribe, the funds should be recovered from the political parties,” he said.

He said they want the probe to be conducted by an independent SIT, which should be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

“The CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) should not be included in the SIT,” he added.

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