India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) has so far issued Rs.2,772.78 crore worth of Electoral Bonds for the purpose of funding political parties. The bank provided this information while answering a Right to Information (RTI) application submitted by The Indian Express. It is worth noting that SBI is the only lender in the country that has the authorisation to issue these bonds and encash them.
These bonds are issued in multiple denominations including Rs.1 crore, Rs.10 lakh, Rs.1 lakh, Rs.10,000, and Rs.1,000.
The biggest issue of bonds came in during March 2019 when the bank issued about Rs.1,366 crore worth of Electoral Bonds. The bond offering in March was open from 1st to 15th of the month. This is the second bond offering for this year next to the issue of Rs.350.36 crore worth of bonds in January 2019. Last year, SBI had issued bonds during six instances.
During the March issue this year, SBI issued a total of 2,742 bonds of various denominations. Out of the total issue, 1,264 bonds came with a denomination of Rs.1 crore and more. In January, SBI issued a total of 937 bonds. Prior to that, SBI issued 339 bonds in November with a total value of Rs.184.20 crore.
As a substitute for cash donations, the Electoral Bond scheme was implemented by the government of India to improve transparency in the funding received by various political parties in the country. The Supreme Court has asked political parties in India to submit the receipts of Electoral Bonds to the Election Commissions before May 30. The information of the donors and the amount they donated must be provided clearly by political parties.
Electoral Bonds are specifically developed for political parties in India. As per Section 29A of the Representative of the People Act, only political parties that have received at least 1% of the total votes polled in the previous general election (Parliament or Legislative Assembly) can redeem Electoral Bonds by opening a current account.
Source: The Indian Express