Poll bonds worth ₹6,000 cr. sold in 2 years: RTI query

Activists had filed RTI query seeking data from SBI

January 10, 2020 10:45 pm | Updated 10:46 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A day after the Finance Ministry released a fresh notification to issue electoral bonds (EBs), a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed that more than 11,770 EBs worth almost ₹6,000 crore had been sold in the past two years.

RTI activists Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri, who sought to know from the State Bank of India (SBI) the number of EBs their 29 authorised branches had sold since January 2, 2018, claimed that 23 branches had furnished the information

These 23 branches had revealed that 11,770 EBs worth ₹5,936.7 crore had been sold since January 2, 2018.

₹1 crore denomination

“Of the 11,770 bonds, 5,463 were of the denomination of ₹1 crore which means that 92% of the amount given through bonds was in the denomination of ₹1 crore. For 6 branches: Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Vishakhapatnam, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram, no information has been received till date,” the activists said in a statement.

“All the branches denied information on the names of persons who purchased bonds in the denomination of ₹1 crore stating that ‘The information sought by the applicant cannot be disclosed as it is in fiduciary capacity, disclosure of which is exempted under 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) of RTI Act, 2005’… This is a violation of peoples’ right to know,” the activists said.

“The public authority has failed to weigh the issue of larger public interest, which is mandatorily required in each case in which information is denied under section 8 of the RTI Act,” they added.

In a related development, the Congress party attacked the government for bringing out a fresh notification for issuing EBs just ahead of the Delhi elections.

“This government is bonded to electoral bonds,” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said at a press conference. “They have a great bonding with electoral bonds.”

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram retweeted a message put out by the official handle of the Congress party that said, “The next phase of Electoral Bonds have begun — right before the Delhi elections. Coincidence? Or is the BJP simply just funding their legalized loot and organized plunder”.

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