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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

ECI Releases Electoral Bond Data: Full List Now Available

One day ahead of the deadline set by the Supreme Court (SC), on Thursday, the Election Commission of India (ECI) released the electoral bond data supplied by the State Bank of India (SBI) on its official website.

In compliance with SC’s directive, SBI shared the information with the ECI on March 12 and presented the affidavit about the same with the apex court on March 13. Additionally, the top court had given the ECI time till March 15 to upload the data on its website. 

The electoral body has uploaded the ‘Disclosure of Electoral Bonds’ submitted by SBI into two sections on “as is where is basis”.

According to the data shared by the poll panel, purchasers of electoral bonds encompass a range of entities such as Grasim Industries, Megha Engineering, Piramal Enterprises, Torrent Power, Bharti Airtel, DLF Commercial Developers, Vedanta Ltd., Apollo Tyres, Lakshmi Mittal, Edelweiss, PVR, Keventer, Sula Wine, Welspun, and Sun Pharma.
See full list: Donor wise

Likewise, political parties that have redeemed electoral bonds include the BJP, Congress, AIADMK, BRS, Shiv Sena, TDP, YSR Congress, DMK, JDS, NCP, Trinamool Congress, JDU, RJD, AAP, and the Samajwadi Party, according to the data.
See full list: Party wise 

Earlier, the apex court had set a deadline of March 6 for SBI to submit the data, and ECI was asked to make it public by March 13. However, the bank requested the court for an extension till June 30. This was challenged by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a New Delhi based nonprofit organisation, working on electoral and political reforms since 1999. Notably, ADR was among the petitioners who had opposed the electoral bonds scheme.

What are electoral bonds?

Electoral bonds were introduced in the country on January 28, 2017 by then Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley. The objective was to facilitate transparent political funding. These bonds, issued exclusively by SBI, served as a designated financial instrument that offered individuals and corporate entities the opportunity to contribute funds to political parties discreetly, as those bonds had no identification of the donor and the political party to which it was issued.

Electoral bonds were available in denominations of Rs 1,000 and could be acquired from SBI branches during specific periods stipulated by the government. Political parties could then redeem those bonds through their designated accounts within a prescribed timeframe.

The anonymous political funding via electoral bonds was made unconstitutional by the SC, in its landmark judgement on 15 February 2024 and the five-judge Constitution bench mandated the ECI to disclose donors, the amounts donated by them, and the recipients.

According to the affidavit submitted by SBI with SC on March 13, between April 2019 and February 15, 2024, a total of 22,217 electoral bonds were issued. Of these bonds, 22,030 were redeemed by political parties, while the remaining 187 were redeemed, with the funds deposited into the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
According to data presented in Lok Sabha during the Budget session, Minister of State in the Finance Ministry Pankaj Chaudhry said that a total of Rs 16,500 crore were collected from 30 tranches of electoral bonds issued between March 2018 to January 2024. He added, “The commission paid to the State Bank of India by the Government of India for the issuance and redemption of Electoral Bonds from Phase I to Phase XXV is about Rs 8.57 crore. Also, the amount paid by the Government of India to Security Printing & Minting Corporation of India Ltd (SPMCIL) to date is about Rs 1.90 crore.”

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(Source: Business Standard)

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