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Current Affairs 12 April 2019 Digest 5: Russia confers highest Order on PM Modi; SC directs parties to submit electoral bond receipts to EC

PM Modi has been decorated with the order for exceptional services in promoting a special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India and friendly relations.

Apr 12, 2019 16:34 IST
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Story 1-Russia honours PM Narendra Modi with highest award

Russia on April 12, 2019 announced that it had honoured Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Order of St Andrew the Apostle, the highest order of the Russian Federation, for promoting partnership and friendly relations between the two countries.

PM Modi has been decorated with the order for exceptional services in promoting a special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India and friendly relations between the Russian and Indian people. The information was shared by the Russian Embassy in India.

About Order of St Andrew the Apostle

The Order of St Andrew the Apostle is both the highest and the oldest state decoration of Russia.

It was established as the first and highest order of chivalry of the Russian Empire in 1698 but was abolished under the USSR in 1918 before being reinstated as the top Russian order in 1998.

The honour is awarded to prominent statesmen and public figures, eminent representatives of science, culture, the arts and various industries for exceptional services, for promoting the prosperity, grandeur and glory of Russia.

It may also be awarded to foreign heads of states for outstanding service to the Russian Federation.

The award comprises the collar, sash and the star of the Imperial Order.

Past Recipients of the Honour

In 2017, Chinese president Xi Jinping was awarded the Order of St Andrew the Apostle.

The other heads of state to receive the prestigious award include Nursultan Nazarbayev, former President of Kazakhstan and Heydar Aliyev, late President of Azerbaijan.

Background

With the Russian award, PM Narendra Modi has now been honoured with around seven top global awards. The Indian Prime Minister has previously been awarded the top honour of the United Arab Emirates, the Order of Zayed, as well as of countries including South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Afghanistan.

Story 2- SC directs political parties to submit electoral bonds receipts to EC

The Supreme Court on April 12, 2019 directed all political parties to furnish receipts of electoral bonds and details of the identity of donors in a sealed cover to the Election Commission.

In an interim order, the apex court also directed all political parties to provide details of the amount and bank account of donors by May 30 to the poll panel. The order was pronounced by a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

Key Highlights

The order was passed on a plea of an NGO, which challenged the validity of the scheme and sought that either the issuance of electoral bonds be stayed or names of donors are made public to ensure transparency in the poll process.

The government had notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018 on January 2, 2018. As per provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.

Only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than one per cent of votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the state shall be eligible to receive electoral bonds.

The electoral bonds shall be encashed by an eligible political party only through a bank account with an authorized bank.

Background

Electoral Bonds was introduced through Finance Act, 2017 by way of amendments to three statutes – Income Tax Act, RBI Act, and Representation of People Act.

The petition has assailed five major amendments which were brought through Finance Act, 2017 and Finance Act, 2016. The petitioners also challenged the amendments to Section 182 of the Companies Act which earlier provided for a cap on donations made by companies to political parties.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioners, Prashant Bhushan submitted before the Court that an electoral bond is like a promissory note wherein the donor’s name is not on the instrument. The donor, who is the purchaser of the bond, remains anonymous and their details are not obligated to be disclosed to the Election Commission or Income Tax authorities.

Putting this point across, Bhushan argued that anonymous funding leads to corruption, hence the petitioners asked the apex court to grant an interim stay on the sale of the anonymous electoral bonds until such time as the Court decides on the constitutionality of the scheme as a whole.

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