Updated: April 28, 2021 7:41:16 am
WHEN THE ELECTION process in four states and one Union Territory was in full swing earlier this month, State Bank of India sold electoral bonds worth Rs 695.34 crore to donors of political parties for funding of elections.
SBI sold the bonds in the 16th series from April 1 to April 10 this year. Of the total sales, as much as Rs 671 crore came through bonds with a face value of Rs one crore, Rs 23.70 crore bonds with a face value of Rs 10 lakh, and Rs 64 lakh bonds with a face value of Rs one lakh, SBI said in reply to the RTI application filed by Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retd).
The process of elections for the legislative Assemblies of Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (under the President’s rule) is currently underway. Voting for five Assembly elections began on March 27, with Assam going to polls first and West Bengal concluding it with its eighth phase of voting on April 29.
According to SBI, political parties have already encashed Rs 695.34 crore bonds. Only two bonds worth Rs 2,000 are yet to SBI’s Kolkata Main branch issued bonds worth Rs 176.19 crore, New Delhi Main branch Rs 167.50 crore, Chennai Main branch Rs 141.50 crore and Mumbai Main branch Rs 91.50 crore.
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SBI said bonds worth Rs 350.60 crore were encashed at the New Delhi Main branch, Rs 116 crore bond by the Bhubaneshwar Main branch, Rs 106 crore bonds by Chennai Main branch, Rs 63.50 crore by Hyderabad Main branch and Rs 55.44 crore by the Kolkata Main branch.
The Supreme Court had recently refused to stay the sales of electoral bonds ahead of the Assembly elections on a PIL filed by the NGO pertaining to funding of political parties and alleged lack of transparency.
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 the bonds. These can be redeemed only by an eligible political party by depositing the same in its designated bank account maintained with an authorised bank.
The bonds are issued by the SBI in denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore. Political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which have secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes in the last general election to an Assembly or Parliament, are eligible to open current accounts for redemption of electoral bonds.
“The information furnished by the purchaser shall be treated confidential by State Bank of India and shall not be disclosed to any authority for any purposes, except when demanded by a competent court or upon registration of criminal case by any law enforcement agency,” operating guidelines by the SBI state.
The SBI sold electoral bonds worth Rs 42.10 crore in the 15th phase of sale from January 1 to 10, 2021. Bonds worth Rs 282 crore were sold by it in October ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections.
Donors, mainly corporate houses and industrialists, gave Rs 1,056.73 crore in 2018, Rs 5,071.99 crore in 2019 and Rs 363.96 crore in 2020, the SBI had said in a previous RTI reply to The Indian Express. The total donations through electoral bonds have touched Rs 7,230 crore.
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