EC will disclose details of electoral bonds in time: CEC Rajiv Kumar

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar addresses a press conference on poll preparedness for the upcoming Lok Sabha election, in Jammu, Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar addresses a press conference on poll preparedness for the upcoming Lok Sabha election, in Jammu, Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

Jammu | Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Wednesday announced sharing details of electoral bonds "in time" and asserted that the commission believed in complete transparency.

Speaking to reporters at the end of his visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Kumar also said that the poll body was ready to hold assembly as well as Lok Sabha elections in the Union territory.

Kumar, who ended his nationwide visits ahead of the Lok Sabha election schedule announcement, was asked whether the ECI would be disclosing the details of the electoral bonds purchased since April 12, 2019 following a direction from the Supreme Court.

The State Bank of India (SBI) has issued electoral bonds worth Rs 16,518 crore in 30 tranches since the inception of the scheme in 2018.

"The SBI was supposed to submit the data by March 12. They have given us the details in time. I will go back and look at the data (and) would definitely disclose it in time," Kumar said.

He said the commission believed only "in disclosure, disclosure and disclosure" to ensure high standards of transparency.

The Supreme Court had directed SBI to submit the details of the electoral bonds purchased since April 12, 2019 to the EC. The SBI is the authorised financial institution to issue the electoral bonds.

The SBI on Tuesday evening submitted the details of entities which had purchased the now-scrapped electoral bonds and political parties which redeemed them.

According to the Supreme Court order, the Election Commission will have to publish the details shared by the bank on its official website by 5 pm on March 15.

The Supreme Court had on February 15 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 recipients.

The SBI had sought time till June 30 for disclosure of the details. Its plea, however, was rejected by the apex court, and it asked the bank to submit all details to the Election Commission by the close of working hours on Tuesday.

Today, the SBI submitted a compliance affidavit to the Supreme Court informing that a total of 22,217 electoral bonds were purchased by donors between April 1, 2019 and February 15 this year, out of which 22,030 were redeemed by political parties.

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

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

It further said from April 12, 2019 (beginning date as per the Supreme court) to February 15 this year, a total of 18,871 electoral bonds were purchased and 20,421 were redeemed.

Kumar, who reached here on Wednesday to review preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, also said that the EC was ready for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

"We will ensure free and fair elections across the country. We request voters across the country, including Jammu and Kashmir, to enthusiastically take part in the festival of democracy," he said.

He said a social media cell will be established in all districts in order to respond to fake news in real time.

"Adequate security will be provided to all candidates and central forces will be deployed," he added.

Kumar said strict vigil will be maintained on online cash transfers through wallets in Jammu and Kashmir.

People above 85 years and those with disability will be provided the voting-at-home facility in the Union territory, he added.

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