New Delhi: The government on Saturday notified the sale of the 24th tranche of electoral bonds from December 5 onwards, the second tranche to be cleared after the rules of the scheme were amended to allow sales for an additional 15 days in years when elections to assemblies are held.
The sale of bonds will being on December 5, when the second phase of voting for the Gujarat assembly elections will be held, and continue until December 12. The Supreme Court is also set to hear pleas challenging the scheme on December 6.
While the government has pitched the electoral bonds scheme as an alternative to cash donations that will bring transparency to political funding, opposition parties have said that it has the opposite effect because the identities of individuals or entities who are purchasing the bonds are not revealed.
The last phase of electoral bonds (23rd tranche) was open for subscription between November 9-15, 2022, just two days after the scheme was amended.
In a notification issued on November 7, the Ministry of Finance amended the scheme to provide “an additional period of 15 days” for the sale of electoral bonds “in the year of general elections to the Legislative Assembly of States and Union Territories with Legislature”.
Usually, electoral bond tranches are open for sale between the first ten days of a designated month – January, April, July and October, when specified by the Union government. For instance, the 22nd tranche of bond sales took place from October 1-10, 2022 while the 21st tranche was from July 1-10, 2022.
The original scheme had the provision for an additional period of 30 days, as specified by the government when bonds can be sold in the year when Lok Sabha elections are held. The new amendment effectively provides another 15 days for the bonds to be sold because elections to various assemblies are held every year.
The sale of the first batch of electoral bonds occurred between March 1-10, 2018.
The SBI is the only authorised bank to issue electoral bonds.
An electoral bond is valid for 15 days from the date of issuance. No payment would be made to any political party if the bond is deposited after the expiry of the validity period.
Electoral bonds can be purchased by Indian citizens or entities incorporated or established in the country.
Registered political parties that have secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha or legislative assembly election are eligible to receive funding through electoral bonds.
(With PTI inputs)