The State Bank of India sold electoral bonds worth more than Rs 282.29 crore ahead of the recently concluded Bihar Assembly elections, The Hindu reported on Saturday, quoting a response by the public sector lender to a Right to Information application.
The query was filed by Commodore Lokesh K Batra (retired), who had sought a “branch-wise and denomination-wise” information on the sale of electoral bonds between October 19 and October 28, according to The Hindu.
The Bihar elections were held in three phases between October 28 and November 7. The results were announced on November 10.
According to data furnished by the State Bank of India, bonds worth Rs 282,29,01,000 were sold from nine of its branches. As many as 279 electoral bonds worth Rs 1 crore each were sold, while 32 of them were worth Rs 10 lakh each. Nine bonds worth a lakh each were also sold. One electoral bond worth Rs 1,000 was not encashed and was transferred to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, The Hindu reported.
A response to a separate application with the same query filed by The Indian Express showed that the bank’s main branch in Mumbai issued bonds worth Rs 130 crore, while the New Delhi branch issued bonds worth Rs 11.99 crore. Bonds were also encashed at the Hyderabad (Rs 90 crore), Chennai (Rs 80 crore), Bhubaneswar (Rs 67 crore) and Patna (Rs 80 lakh) branches.
The Centre had notified the electoral bond scheme on January 2, 2018. As per provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. An individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
Ahead of the Bihar polls, election watchdog group Association for Democratic Reforms had moved the Supreme Court, seeking an urgent hearing of its 2017 plea challenging electoral bonds introduced for funding political parties.
In its plea, Association for Democratic Reforms pointed out that the sale window for electoral bonds were not opened in the stipulated months of April and July, but was done so in October, just ahead of the Bihar elections.
“The scheme has opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies which can have serious repercussions on the Indian democracy,” the plea read.