The State Bank of India sold electoral bonds worth Rs 3,622 crore in March and April, the response to a Right to Information query has revealed. In March, electoral bonds worth Rs 1,365.6 crore were issued, and in April, bonds worth Rs 2,256.3 crore were sold, the bank told Pune-based Vihar Durve in its RTI response on May 4, according to The Leaflet.
Electoral bonds are monetary instruments, introduced in January 2018, 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.
According to the RTI response, most electoral bonds were sold in Mumbai in April. Bonds worth Rs 694 crore were issued in the Maharashtra capital, followed by Rs 417 crore in Kolkata, Rs 408 crore in New Delhi and Rs 338 crore in Hyderabad.
In April, the Supreme Court had issued an interim order on a plea arguing that electoral bonds are unconstitutional. However, the court decided to take up the matter only at a later date, saying the case could have a tremendous bearing on India’s electoral process. It told political parties to give the Election Commission of India details of the bonds they had received till date in a sealed cover by May 30.
The court also ordered the finance ministry to narrow the window for purchasing electoral bonds in April and May from 10 days to just five days.