Electoral Bonds – Part 3
- Electoral Bonds are debt instruments which are purchased anonymously by donors to political parties.
- Introduced with the Finance Bill, 2017, the Electoral Bond Scheme was notified on January 29, 2018.
- They are valid for 15 days and the political parties can encash them.
- State Bank of India is authorised to issue and encash these bonds.
- The bonds are issued by SBI in denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore.
- One can purchase these bonds only digitally or through cheques.
- The bonds can be purchased by any citizen of India for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and October as may be specified by the Union Government.
- The bonds are only redeemable in the designated account of a registered political party.
- The Electoral Bond deposited by an eligible Political Party in its account is credited on the same day.
- To be eligible to receive electoral bonds, a political party:
- Must be a registered political party under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- Must have secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last general election to the Lok Sabha or the State Legislative Assembly.
- The Bank of choice being a solely government owned bank makes it possible for the party in power to know the identity of the buyer of the bond.
- While the bond scheme was brought in to bring transparency in to the electoral funding process, it has only in many ways made the process opaquer.
- By hiding the identity of the donor, it makes it possible for vested interests to play a larger role in the country’s elections.
- The new rules exempt the political parties from disclosing donations received through electoral bonds.
- This has made it impossible for the citizenry to know from where and whom does these parties get their money supply.
- This also means that they infringe upon the fundamental right to know under Article 19.