RTI reveals details of “Electoral bonds” sale during the recent elections

What is the News?

State Bank of India(SBI) has provided information on the sale of electoral bonds during the recent assembly elections. This was provided after a Right to Information(RTI) application was filed.

Key Highlights from the Sale of Electoral Bonds:
  • During the Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala polls, electoral bonds worth ₹695 crore were sold from April 1 to 10, 2021
  • This is the highest ever amount sold for any Assembly elections since the scheme started in 2018.
  • The sale of electoral bonds was also more than 16 times the sale of electoral bonds during the previous sales in early January 2021.
  • The highest amounts were sold at the Kolkata branch. This is followed by the New Delhi and Chennai branch of SBI.
  • However, the SBI has declined to name the political parties that have withdrawn the bonds. It said that this was third party personal information. So, it is exempted under the RTI Act.
  • Moreover, the bank has also declined to share the details of how much commission it had earned from the sale of bonds since the scheme started in 2018. It said that this information was of commercial confidence in nature. The bank also stated that the disclosure would harm the competitive position of the bank.
What are Electoral Bonds?
  • Firstly, the Electoral Bonds are the non-interest-bearing financial instruments. These bonds allow eligible donors to pay eligible political parties using banks as an intermediary. The Electoral Bonds aim to ensure transparency in the funding of political parties.
  • Secondly, they were introduced by the Government of India by the Finance Bill, 2017.
  • Thirdly, the State Bank of India (SBI) issues electoral bonds in the months of January, April, July, and October.
  • Fourthly, the electoral bonds are available in denominations of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore.
  • Fifthly, the donors can buy electoral bonds and transfer them into the accounts of the political parties as a donation. The name of the donor is kept confidential.
  • Sixthly, political parties will create a specific account. This account will be verified by the ECI. The political parties will encash the electoral bonds only in this verified account.
  • Seventhly, the bonds will remain valid for 15 days. Within that time, the political parties have to encash the electoral bond in the designated accounts.
  • Lastly, no payment shall be made to the Political Party if the Electoral Bond is deposited after the expiry of the validity period.
  • Eligibility: Only the registered Political Parties are eligible. Further, they also have to secure at least 1% of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha elections or the State Legislative Assembly to receive the funds.

Click Here to Read more about Electoral Bonds and its challenges

 Source: The Hindu

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