RTI reply reveals, Electoral bonds worth Rs 5,029 crore issued till May 4
In a response to an RTI activist Manoranjan Roy's query from Mumbai on the names of individuals and companies giving the donations and total numbers of electoral bonds issued, the bank stated it has issued over 10,494 bonds worth Rs 5,029 crore
The State Bank of India (SBI) issued 10,494 electoral bonds in nine phases so far worth over Rs 5,029 crore at an average of Rs 48 lakh per bond, revealed RTI response. SBI is the only commercial bank authorised by the Centre ever since it was envisaged last year to issue electoral bonds. In a response to an RTI activist Manoranjan Roy's query from Mumbai on the names of individuals and companies giving the donations and total numbers of electoral bonds issued, the bank stated it has issued over 10,494 bonds worth Rs 5,029 crore which was completed on May 4 till phase nine.
The Bank, however, refused to disclose the names of individuals or companies sending donations to political parties citing it to be "third party" information which is exempted under Section 8(1)(E)(i) of the RTI Act. Replying to another query on how many of the electoral bonds issued have been submitted for withdrawal, the bank replied, out of 10,494 issued 10,388 bonds have been redeemed/withdrawn till the phase nine. CPIO and Deputy General Manager (TB Sales & SME) Naresh Kumar Raheja stated, "The value of these redeemed bonds amounts to Rs 5,011 crore,"
Roy, commenting on the reply stated, "Augmentation of electoral bonds are nothing but a legalised route to have an unholy nexus between political parties and corporate entities and it will lead to the highest level of corruption in the country. It can be a little less destructive if this is made transparent by revealing the names of bond-seekers." He further suggested that, "Corporate entities could spend this huge amount of money through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) schemes or individuals can benefit the needy and marginalized people in the society rather than donating to political parties "who spend the amount to woo voters".
the Electoral Bond Scheme in 2018, notified by the Centre in January last year, had been challenged in the Supreme Court. Only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes in the last general election to the Legislative Assembly of the state or the House of the People shall be eligible to receive these bonds. The bonds may be purchased by an individual who is a citizen of India or established or incorporated in India, the government stated last year. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) which is a voluntary group working in the field of electoral reforms, demanded a stay on the sale of these electoral bonds while the CPI(M) has challenged it before the Supreme Court.
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