Seal of secrecy - By V. Venkatesan - IAMC
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Seal of secrecy – By V. Venkatesan

The Supreme Court’s direction to submit information in sealed covers dismays petitioners in public interest litigation (PIL) and civil society as it underlines the paternalistic attitude of the court to matters that it deems sensitive.… The court resorted to the use of sealed covers to know the government’s contentions while hearing petitions seeking an impartial probe into allegations over the Rafale deal involving the acquisition of 36 fighter jets from France.…

The Electoral Bonds Scheme, introduced under the Finance Act of 2017, enables any individual or private company to purchase bonds from authorised branches of State Bank of India (SBI) during specified days of the year and donate them to a political party. The parties have to deposit these bonds in their accounts within 15 days of their issue. The scheme raised concern over non-transparency in the funding of political parties and the resultant corruption and crony capitalism.

The court’s reason for the interim order was that the challenges to the constitutionality of the scheme gave rise to “weighty issues which have a tremendous bearing on the sanctity of the electoral process in the country”. Such “weighty issues”, the bench held, “would require an in-depth hearing, which could not be concluded and the issues answered within the limited time that was available before the process of funding through the Electoral Bonds comes to a closure….”…