SBI sends electoral bonds details to Election Commission

Court has directed the poll body to publish the information on its website by 5 p.m. on March 15

March 12, 2024 07:14 pm | Updated 10:35 pm IST - New Delhi

Electoral bonds were introduced as a substitute for cash donations made to political parties. File

Electoral bonds were introduced as a substitute for cash donations made to political parties. File

A day after the Supreme Court directive, the State Bank of India (SBI) on March 12 submitted to the Election Commission of India (EC) the details of electoral bonds purchased and encashed since April 12, 2019.

“In compliance of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s directions to the SBI, contained in its order dated Feb 15 and March 11, 2024 (in the matter of WPC NO.880 of 2017), data on electoral bonds has been supplied by the State Bank of India to the Election Commission of India, today, March 12, 2024,” read a post from the Election Commission official handle on X.

Editorial |Names and bonds: On electoral bonds scheme, the Supreme Court, and the State Bank of India

On March 11, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea filed by the SBI seeking time till June 30 for disclosure of the data on electoral bonds. The court asked that the data be submitted to the EC by March 12. The poll body was in turn asked to publish the information on its website by 5 p.m. on March 15.

The SBI sought time till June 30 saying it needed time to match the buyers of the bonds with the political parties that encashed it. To this, the top court said the information on purchasers of electoral bonds, the denomination of the bonds, and the bonds redeemed by the respective political parties were easily available and did not need matching.

Explained | Why did the Supreme Court reject SBI’s plea seeking extension of time to disclose electoral bonds data?

The first sale of electoral bonds took place in March 2018. Electoral bonds worth ₹16,518 crore had been issued by the SBI in 30 tranches since the inception of the scheme in 2018.

In an interim order on April 12, 2019, the Supreme Court asked political parties to submit details of donations via the electoral bonds in a sealed cover to the commission. On March 11, the court directed the poll body to publish this data on its website as well.

Sources in the commission said on Tuesday that they would also upload the pre-2019 data as directed by the top court in a “phase-wise” manner by March 15 along with the SBI data.

Also read | SBI data on electoral bonds can give crucial information: activists

According to the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018, a bond is issued in the nature of a promissory note, which shall be bearer in character. A bearer instrument is one that does not carry the name of the buyer or payee, no ownership information is recorded and the holder of the instrument (i.e. political party) is presumed to be its owner. These bonds have to be redeemed by the political parties within 15 days.

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