Total of 22,217 electoral bonds purchased from Apr 1, 2019 to Feb 15, 2024: SBI to SC

The State Bank of India (SBI) on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that a total of 22,217 electoral bonds were purchased and 22,030 redeemed by political parties between April 1, 2019 and February 15 this year.
Supreme Court releases some information regarding electoral bonds
Supreme Court releases some information regarding electoral bonds

New Delhi | The State Bank of India (SBI) on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that a total of 22,217 electoral bonds were purchased by political parties between April 1, 2019 and February 15 this year, out of which 22,030 were redeemed.

In a compliance affidavit filed in the apex court, the SBI said as per the court's direction, it has made available the details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India before the close of business hours on March 12.

It said details, including date of purchase of each electoral bonds, names of the purchaser and the denomination of the bonds purchased have been furnished.

The affidavit, filed by SBI's chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara, said the bank has also furnished to the EC details like date of encashment of the electoral bonds, the names of political parties which received the contributions and the denominations of the bonds.

"A total number of 22,217 bonds were purchased during the period April 1, 2019 till February 15, 2024. At the time of collating the information for the ECI, the details were segregated as below…," it said.

The affidavit said between April 1, 2019 to April 11, 2019, a total of 3,346 electoral bonds were purchased and 1,609 redeemed.

It further said from April 12, 2019 to February 15 this year, a total of 18,871 electoral bonds were purchased and 20,421 were redeemed.

"The State Bank of India has ready records in which the date of purchase, denomination and name of buyer were recorded, and (in relation to the political parties) the date of encashment and the denominations of the bonds encashed were recorded," the affidavit said.

It said in compliance with the apex court's directions, a record of this information was made available to the EC by hand delivering in digital form (password protected) before the close of business hours on March 12.

"As per direction no. (b), the date of purchase of each electoral bond, the name of the purchaser and the denomination of the electoral bond purchased has been furnished. In terms of direction no.(c), the date of encashment of the electoral bonds, the name of political parties who have received the contributions and the denomination of the said bonds has also been furnished," the affidavit said.

It said the aforesaid data has been furnished in respect of bonds purchased and redeemed between April 12, 2019 to February 15, 2024.

"The electoral bonds were sold and redeemed in phases during this period and phase IX started from April 1, 2019. The number of bonds set out in the application included (by oversight) the bonds that were purchased during the period commencing April 1, 2019 and not from April 12, 2019," it said.

The affidavit also contains as annexure a copy of letter as proof of service of data sent by the SBI to EC.

“The amount of the electoral bonds which were not encashed by the political party within the validity period of 15 days during this period have been transferred to Prime Minister's National Relief Fund, as per the Gazette notification no.20 dated January 2, 2018,” reads the letter sent by the SBI to the poll panel.

On March 11, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud had dismissed the SBI's plea seeking an extension of time and ordered it to disclose the details of electoral bonds to the EC by close of business hours on March 12.

The apex court had also directed the EC to publish the details shared by the bank on its official website by 5 pm on March 15.

In a landmark verdict delivered on February 15, a five-judge Constitution bench had scrapped the Centre's electoral bonds scheme that allowed anonymous political funding, calling it "unconstitutional" and ordered disclosure by the EC of donors, the amount donated by them and the recipients by March 13.

Ordering the closure of the scheme, the top court had directed the SBI, the authorised financial institution under the scheme, to submit by March 6 the details of the electoral bonds purchased since April 12, 2019, till date to the EC.

On March 11, while hearing SBI's application seeking an extension of time till June 30 to furnish the details to the EC, the apex court had observed that the bank's submissions in the application sufficiently indicated that the information which was directed to be disclosed was readily available.

In its application, the SBI had contended that the retrieval of information from "each silo" and the procedure of matching the information of one silo to that of the other would be a time-consuming exercise.

The application had said due to stringent measures undertaken to ensure that the identity of the donors was kept anonymous, "decoding" the electoral bonds and matching the donors to the donations would be a complex process.

"It submitted that the data related to the issuance of the bond and the data related to the redemption of the bond was kept recorded in two different silos. No central database was maintained," it had said.

"It is submitted that donor details were kept in a sealed cover at the designated branches and all such sealed covers were deposited in the main branch of the applicant bank, which is located in Mumbai," it had said.

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