What is Electoral Bonds and why it is so confusing ?

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Electoral bonds are a financial instrument introduced in India in 2018 as a mechanism for individuals and corporations to make donations to political parties. These bonds are essentially promissory notes that can be purchased from specified branches of authorized banks using legally declared funds. The donor can then donate these bonds to any eligible political party of their choice.

Key features and aspects of electoral bonds:

Anonymity: One of the main features of electoral bonds is the anonymity they offer to donors. Unlike traditional forms of political donations, electoral bonds allow donors to make contributions without revealing their identities.

Authorized Banks: Electoral bonds can only be purchased from specified branches of authorized banks during certain designated periods. These banks include State Bank of India (SBI) and a few other nationalized banks.

Electoral bonds have a specified validity period, usually ranging from a few days to a month. Within this period, the bonds can be donated to any eligible political party registered under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

As per available data of January 2024 showed that only 25 political parties had opened their account and were eligible for encashing electoral bonds. Therefore, compiling this information should not be difficult as the system is already in place,” the petition argued.

The apex court had directed the SBI to submit details of electoral bonds purchased since April 12, 2019 to the Election Commission by March 6. The poll body in turn was asked to publish the information on its official website by March 13. SBI moved the Supreme Court on Monday for an extension till June 30.

The subject matter expert says, each electoral bond had a unique number, it said. “A simple query on the database can generate a report in a particular format which does not require any manual verification.”

The SBI has 2,60,000 employees, 22,500 worldwide branches administered by a headquarters, 17 local head offices, 101 zonal offices and 208 foreign offices in 36 countries. It is hard to believe that the SBI is not able to gather information which the SBI has itself recorded.

SBI has told the court that it can reconcile the information only by June end. The reason, furnished close to the date set by the court, is not convincing. Many hold that the reasons cited by the bank for its inability to comply with the court’s directive are untenable. A recent update shows, SBI Deletes Documents Related To Electoral Bonds From Website.

I has been pointed out, on the basis of RTI documents, that the SBI was able to collate data on bonds from across the country within 48 hours when the union finance ministry sought such information.

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