The Department of Economic Affairs, which is under the Finance Ministry, in response to an RTI request filed by transparency activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd.) stated that 24,650 Electoral Bonds of the denomination of ₹1 crore accounted for the lion’s share of the total value of the Bonds printed in the last 4 years.
According to the reply, as many as 26,600 bonds of the denomination of ₹10 lakh, 93,000 of ₹1 lakh and 2,65,000 bonds of ₹10,000 and ₹1,000, each, had also been printed.
Over ₹7.63 crore, the reply also stated, was charged to the government as commission by the State Bank of India (SBI) for the sale of Electoral Bonds so far, the activist said.
Introducing the scheme as a means “to cleanse the system of political funding in the country”, the Finance Ministry had stated that Electoral Bonds would be available for a period of 10 days each in January, April, July and October, as specified by the Central government.
An additional period of 30 days, however, could be specified by the Centre in years of General Elections to the House of People or the Lok Sabha. An alternative to cash donations made to political parties, the government had, last month, notified a 10-day window for the 22nd tranche of such bonds to be issued and encashed solely by the SBI.
The Centre had, earlier this month, approved the issuance of the 23rd tranche of Electoral Bonds open for sale on November 9 with the Assembly elections to Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat around the corner, coming under fire from the Opposition, civil society groups and activists especially when their Constitutional validity is scheduled for hearing in the Supreme Court on December 6.