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Electoral Bonds: CIC Asks Modi Govt To Reveal Names Of Those Seeking Donor Secrecy

HuffPost India’s series on electoral bonds by Nitin Sethi had revealed that the government lied that donors requested anonymity due to fear of political retribution.

Read the six-part #PaisaPolitics series by Nitin Sethi, published by Huffpost India, here — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the government to reveal the names of those who requested that donors who bought electoral bonds remain anonymous.

Taking note of an RTI application filed by activist Venkatesh Nayak, the CIC said no department had addressed the application properly, according to The Economic Times. Showcause notices have been issued to the department of economic affairs, financial services, revenue and the Election Commission.

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The CIC has asked why maximum punishment should not be imposed for providing incomplete and vague responses to the application, the report added.

HuffPost India’s series on electoral bonds by Nitin Sethi, published in November last year, had revealed that the government lied that donors requested anonymity due to fear of political retribution.

Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have often repeated the lie that the donors asked for their names to remain secret when asked about the opacity of electoral bonds. Following HuffPost India’s investigation, Union Minister Piyush Goyal addressed a press conference and repeated, “Donors were reluctant to declare their political contributions due to fear of political retribution”.

However, the finance ministry admitted that no donor ever told the government to create an opaque system of funding political parties. This was in response to Nayak’s application filed in July 2017. It was only after Nayak approached the Central Information Commission in January 2018 that the finance ministry was forced to reply. It still took the ministry another year and ten months to answer him.

The series, which was based on documents accessed by transparency activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd), also showed how the Narendra Modi government overruled the objections of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Election Commission. It also revealed the government’s claim that bond donors are completely anonymous was a lie.

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This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost India, which closed in 2020. Some features are no longer enabled. If you have questions or concerns about this article, please contact indiasupport@huffpost.com.