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Electoral Bonds: A Comprehensive Analysis

electoral bonds

India’s democracy depends on free country thought, and an electoral bond extends straightforwardness between political parties and citizens. As ordered by the Supreme Court, the Election Commission of India published information on electing bonds on its official website on 14 March.

What is an Electoral Bond?

Electoral bonds are financial devices introduced in India to advance straightforward political funding. Electoral bonds are given by the State Bank of India (SBI), the official bank for this reason. Electoral bonds allow people and corporate substances to donate money secretly to political parties. These bonds can be purchased in sects of Rs 1000 from SBI branches during explicit periods told by the government. The political parties can then encash these bonds through assigned accounts inside a predefined period.

Electoral Bonds were introduced in The Finance Bill, 2017, during the Union Budget 2017-18, when the maximum cash donation to political parties was covered at Rs 2,000 by Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley, in a transition to work on the transparency of political party financing.

What is the Electoral Bond Scheme?

  • The Electoral Bonds Scheme was launched in 2018 to sanctify political funding in India.
  • The main thought behind the electoral bonds scheme was to achieve transparency in electoral funding in India.
  • The government had depicted the scheme as an “electoral reform” in a country moving towards a “cashless-digital economy.”

Why was the Electoral Bond Challenged?

The two NGOs below challenged the Electoral bonds for political funding in separate Petitions:

1)ADR and Common Cause

2) the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

As per the Finance Bill 2017, all political parties must reveal the names of donors who have donated more than Rs 20,000 in cash. However, the donor name has yet to be revealed if the donation is through Electoral Bonds, irrespective of the amount donated. Since the bonds are issued by SBI, the list of donors and recipients will be with SBI.

Since the names of donors of Electoral Bonds are not public, big organizations can utilize this to seek favor from the government in power regarding licenses, leases, policy changes, and government contracts. Large donations from big institutions to the government can also play a significant role during election campaigns.

Electoral Bond Supreme Court Ruling

The details of the Supreme Court ruling from last month is below:

  • The issuing bank shall herewith stop issuing electoral bonds.
  • SBI shall issue details of the political parties that received electoral bonds and all the particulars received and submit them to ECI by March 6. SBI shall furnish the bond purchase details with the date of purchase, name of purchaser, and denomination. SBI shall also submit information on parties who received contributions through Electoral Bonds. SBI should reveal details of each bond encashed.
  • By March 15, ECI shall publicize this information on the official website.
  • It is not encashed by political parties shall be returned and repaid to purchasers.

Has SBI submitted Electoral Bonds details?

Last week, SBI sought more than three months to comply with the Supreme Court Order—until June 30, 2024. However, the Supreme Court rejected their request. Ultimately, on 12th March, SBI presented details of it to the Election Commission of India. In the report, the SBI said 22,217 electoral bonds were purchased, and political parties redeemed 22,030 between April 1, 2019, and February 15, 2024.

From April 1, 2019, to April 11, the same month, 3,346 bonds were purchased, and parties redeemed 1,609. Between April 12, 2019, and February 15, 2024, donors bought 18,871 bonds, and parties redeemed 20,421.

What Will Happen Next?

The Election Commission of India will publish the data received from SBI on its website. The data include:

  • Details like the purchase date of each electoral bond.
  • The names of the purchasers.
  • The denomination of the bonds purchased.

The SC judgment makes sure that the data that is related to the donor is now made accessible to all. Once the data is published on the website, you will know who received the donations on which date and in what amount.

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