New Delhi: Ahead of the Delhi assembly elections, 139 electoral bonds worth Rs 81.67 crore were sold by the SBI, an RTI query filed by Commodore (Retd) Lokesh Batra has revealed.
Between January 13 to 22, in the 13th phase of sales of electoral bond sales, the largest number (43) were sold by the Kolkata branch and a majority (89) of the bonds were encashed at the New Delhi branch, the RTI response reveals, according to The Hindu.
The newspaper reported that 78 bonds sold were of the denomination of Rs 1 crore while 34 bonds worth Rs 10 lakh each were also issued. “The remaining 27 bonds were worth Rs 1 lakh each. No bonds were issued in the lower denominations of Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000. All bonds sold were redeemed,” the report says.
The electoral bonds scheme has been criticised by civil society groups, saying it hinders transparency in political funding. As The Wire has previously reported, the opaque mechanism, where the identity of donors remains secret, has become the preferred route for corporate houses and individuals who are making large-sized donations to political parties.
The scheme has also been accused of indirectly helping the party in power. As per the audit reports submitted by the political parties for 2017-18, 95% of the electoral bonds purchased in 2017-18 went to the BJP.
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an NGO, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the scheme. During the last hearing on January 20, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for ADR, said the scheme “is a means for channelising unaccounted black money in favour of the ruling party”.
The top court refused to grant an interim stay, but sought responses from the Centre and the Election Commission.
Over the past few months, multiple reports have shown that the Narendra Modi government pushed through the electoral bonds scheme despite serious doubts and disagreements from the Reserve Bank of India and Election Commission. RTI queries also revealed that the government did not follow its own rules and regulations while implementing the scheme.