What is Electoral Bond?

Electoral Bonds were a way for people to give money to political parties in India starting in 2017. But on February 15, 2024, the Supreme Court said they were against the rules of the country. After that, the Chief Justice and four other judges told the State Bank of India to give the names and other information about people who gave or got these bonds to the Election Commission of India. The Election Commission was then asked to put this information on its website.

The Electoral Bond scheme was brought in by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget 2017-18. It was passed as a Money Bill, which means it didn’t need approval from the Rajya Sabha. Jaitley also suggested changes to the Reserve Bank of India Act so that banks could issue these bonds for political funding.

Even though it was introduced in 2017, the Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance officially announced the Electoral Bond Scheme in a Gazette only on January 2, 2018. Between March 2018 and April 2022, around 18,299 electoral bonds worth about ₹9,857 crore were used for political funding.

On November 7, 2022, changes were made to the Electoral Bond scheme. They increased the number of days when these bonds could be sold from 70 to 85 in a year, especially when there might be assembly elections. This decision came just before the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, while the Model Code of Conduct was in place in both states.

Before the 2019 General Elections, the Congress party said they would get rid of electoral bonds if they won the election. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also didn’t like the scheme and was the only national party that didn’t accept donations through electoral bonds.

On February 15, 2024, the Supreme Court of India, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, decided unanimously to cancel the electoral bonds scheme. They also scrapped changes made to the Representation of People Act, Companies Act, and Income Tax Act, saying they were against the Constitution. The court said this scheme violated the Right to Information (RTI) and the public’s right to know about political funding under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. They also mentioned that it could lead to unfair deals between businesses and politicians.

The State Bank of India was told to give details of donors and recipients to the Election Commission of India by March 6, and the ECI was supposed to publish them online by March 13. However, the SBI didn’t provide the details on time and asked for an extension from the Supreme Court. The court said no, so the details were given to the ECI and published on their website.

Features

An Electoral Bond is like a special type of note that works as a promise to pay money. It doesn’t earn any interest. Any Indian citizen or organization registered in India can buy these bonds after following certain rules set by the RBI. To buy them, you need to pay with a cheque or digitally, and you can choose from different amounts like one thousand, ten thousand, one lakh, ten lakh, and one crore. You can get them from specific branches of the State Bank of India (SBI).

Once you buy an electoral bond, you have 15 days to give it to a legally registered political party. This party must have received at least 1% of the votes in the last election. These bonds can only be bought during certain times: 10 days in January, April, July, and October, plus 30 extra days during a General Election for the Lok Sabha.

Electoral bonds keep the identity of the donor and the political party secret because they don’t have any information about who bought them or which party they’re for. If the 15-day deadline isn’t met and the bond isn’t given to a political party, neither the donor nor the party gets their money back. Instead, the money from the bond goes to the Prime Minister Relief Fund.

EBNW Story on Google News

Published at :

EBNW Story is managed by students of Saksham Sanchar Foundation. If you like the efforts to make #BrilliantBharat, you can encourage them through donation - Thank you