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Electoral Bonds: Govt pays Rs 9.53 crore as SBI commission, printing costs

The total amount collected by parties through EBs has gone up to Rs 10,791 crore from various anonymous donors in 22 phases since 2018 when the Electoral Bond Scheme was introduced. As many as 93.67 per cent of EBs are in Rs 1 crore denomination.

Electoral bonds printing, Electoral bonds, SBI commission, SBI State Bank of India, Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, Gujarat Assembly elections, Electoral Bond Scheme, Business news, Indian express, Current AffairsA total of Rs 7.63 crore, inclusive of GST, has been charged to the government as commission so far, consequent to the sale of Electoral Bonds in 22 phases, Department of Economic Affair, said in its reply to a RTI query.

The government has shelled out Rs 9.53 crore of taxpayers’ money towards commission and printing costs of the Electoral Bonds (EBs) issued to fund political parties.

A total of Rs 7.63 crore, inclusive of GST, has been charged to the government as commission so far, consequent to the sale of Electoral Bonds in 22 phases, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, said in its reply to the RTI application filed by Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retd). State Bank of India (SBI) is the only bank authorised to issue EBs to political parties.

“An amount of Rs 1.90 crore, inclusive of GST, has been levied to the government so far towards printing of Electoral Bonds,” the RTI reply said.

The total amount collected by parties through EBs has gone up to Rs 10,791 crore from various anonymous donors in 22 phases since 2018 when the Electoral Bond Scheme was introduced. As many as 93.67 per cent of EBs are in Rs 1 crore denomination.

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Ahead of the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, political parties received Rs 545 crore in the 22nd sale of anonymous Electoral Bonds (EBs) conducted between October 1 and 10, according to data available from State Bank of India (SBI). Political parties received EBs worth Rs 389.50 crore from donors in the previous sale in July this year.

As many as 738 EBs worth Rs 542.25 crore were redeemed by parties in the latest phase, SBI said in an earlier RTI reply. Significantly, this amount has been collected by the political parties as Assembly elections in HP are scheduled in November 2022 and Gujarat by December.

According to the provisions of the EB Scheme, only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly, as the case may be, are eligible to receive electoral bonds.  The Supreme Court has adjourned the hearing of a pending plea challenging the EB scheme to December 6. The petitions were filed in 2017 challenging the provisions of Finance Act 2017 which paved the way for these anonymous bonds.

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Interestingly, major political parties have not disclosed the amount they received through Electoral Bonds. Further, as the bonds are sold through a public sector bank, the government would come to know who is funding which political party, sources said.

Donors gave Rs 1,056.73 crore in 2018, Rs 5,071.99 crore in 2019 and Rs 363.96 crore in 2020, Rs 1502.29 crore in 2021 and Rs 2,797 crore in 2022, SBI had said.

Electoral Bonds are purchased anonymously by donors and are valid for 15 days from the date of issue. A debt instrument, these can be bought by donors from a bank, and the political party can then encash them. These can be redeemed only by an eligible party by depositing the same in its designated account maintained with a bank. The bonds are issued by SBI in denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore. Only 25 political parties are eligible for redemption of electoral bonds.

First published on: 28-11-2022 at 04:03 IST
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