A Right to Information plea has revealed that 99.8% of donations that political parties received through electoral bonds between March 2018 and January 24, 2019, were of the highest denominations – Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore.
Electoral bonds are monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups can buy from the State Bank of India and give to a political party, which is then free to redeem them for money. These bonds are anonymous. The scheme was introduced in January 2018.
Bonds worth Rs 1,407.09 crore were bought, of which Rs 1,403.90 crore were in the highest denominations of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore during this duration, according to information given to a social worker, Chandrashekhar Goud, by the State Bank of India, PTI reported on Sunday.
The SBI sold electoral bonds in five denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, and Rs 1 crore. The donors purchased 1,459 electoral bonds in denominations of Rs 10 lakh and 1,258 bonds of Rs 1 crore denomination. They bought 318 bonds of Rs 1 lakh, 12 bonds of Rs 10,000 and 24 bonds in the Rs 1,000 denomination.
Parties redeemed electoral bonds worth Rs 1,395.89 crore. However, the SBI did not divulge how many parties redeemed the bonds and worth how much money.
On Friday, the Supreme Court issued an order on a plea arguing that electoral bonds are unconstitutional, but only decided to take up the matter at a later date. Saying that the case could have a tremendous bearing on India’s electoral process, the court passed an interim order telling political parties to give the Election Commission of India details of the electoral bonds they have so far received in a sealed cover by May 30.
The Lok Sabha election results are expected on May 23. The court also ordered the finance ministry to narrow the window to purchase electoral bonds in April and May to just five days compared to the earlier 10.