Electoral bonds worth Rs 10,246 crore have been sold by the State Bank of India (SBI) since the instrument was launched in March 2018.
Electoral bonds have been pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency to political funding. In an RTI reply, SBI said the majority of these bonds were of one crore while less than 10 per cent of subscriptions were of lower denominations — ten lakh, one lakh, ten thousand and one thousand.
About 93.5 per cent of total bonds sold were in the denomination of Rs 1 crore, according to an RTI filed by Chandra Shekhar Gaur. Only 0.25 per cent in value terms were from one lakh, ten thousand and one thousand denominations. SBI has been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds through 29 authorised branches. The authorised SBI branches include those in Lucknow, Shimla, Dehradun, Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai, Patna, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Raipur, and Mumbai.
The sale of the first batch of electoral bonds started on March 1-10, 2018. An electoral bond is valid for 15 days from the date of issuance. No payment can 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 per cent of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha or legislative assembly election are eligible to receive funding through electoral bonds.
Electoral Bond (EB) is a bearer instrument in the nature of a Promissory Note and an interest-free banking instrument. The government, on January 2, 2018, notified the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 to establish and cleanse the system of political funding in the country. As per provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or entities incorporated or established in India.
The purchaser is allowed to buy an electoral bond(s) only on due fulfilment of all the extant instructions regarding KYC norms issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and by making payment from a bank account. All payments for the issuance of the bond are accepted only in Indian rupees, through demand draft or cheque through Electronic Clearing System or direct debit to the buyer’s account.