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Electoral bonds worth ₹280 crore sold ahead of Bihar Assembly elections

A sample of the electoral bond issued by the SBI. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Electoral bonds worth ₹282.29 crore were sold in October ahead of the Bihar Assembly election, the State Bank of India said on Friday in response to a Right to Information (RTI) query.

The bank was responding to an application by Commodore Lokesh K. Batra (retired). He had sought a “branch-wise and denomination-wise” information on the sale of electoral bonds between October 19 and October 28.

Comment | The opacity around electoral bonds

The RTI reply showed that bonds worth ₹282,29,01,000 were sold from nine SBI branches. The Mumbai branch sold the highest amount of electoral bonds at ₹130 crore.

Electoral bonds valued ₹1 crore each were sold the most at 279. This was followed by bonds worth ₹10 lakh each — 32 of them were sold. Nine bonds worth a lakh each were also sold. A solitary bond valued at ₹1,000, which was not encashed, was transferred to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

The information from the RTI response is significant as a petition challenging the validity of electoral bonds, filed by the NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms, has been pending for long in the Supreme Court.

Parley | Have electoral bonds made a bad system worse?

In October, the NGO had urgently moved the apex court against the opening of the sale window right before the Bihar polls. It had asked the court for an urgent hearing.

The application had said that “right before the Bihar Legislative Assembly elections, the State Bank of India, in the XIV Phase of sale, has been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds through its 29 authorised branches w.e.f. October 19 to October 28”.

The application had pointed out that the government notification of 2018 on electoral bonds scheme stipulated that their sale should happen in the months of January, April, July and October annually.

However, the sale window was not opened in April and July, but has been done so in October, right before the Bihar polls, it contended.

The application said it has been nine months since the last hearing in the case. The petitioner had twice urged the court to stay the implementation of the scheme.

In January this year, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde had not found it necessary to stay the scheme.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 10:10:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/electoral-bonds-worth-280-crore-sold-ahead-of-bihar-assembly-elections/article33145719.ece

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