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Election Commission of India (ECI) Publishes the Electoral Bonds Data

Election Commission of India (ECI) Publishes the Electoral Bonds Data

On 14th March 2024, the Election Commission of India (ECI) complied with the Supreme Court (SC) directive by publishing the electoral bond data shared by the State Bank of India (SBI) on its website. According to the SC directive, the ECI was asked to publish the details received from SBI on its official website by 5 pm on 15th March 2024. Notably, the ECI has published the data a day before the deadline. 

On 14th March 2024, as it uploaded the data on its website, the ECI said, “In compliance of Supreme Court’s directions, contained in its order dated February 15 and March 11, 2024 (in the matter of WPC NO.880 of 2017), the State Bank of India (SBI) had provided the data pertaining to the electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on March 12, 2024.”

Electoral Bonds Data and Disclosure

The electoral bonds data released by the ECI covers purchases of now-defunct electoral bonds ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 crore, starting from 12th April 2019. It includes information on bond purchasers, whether individuals or companies and the political parties that received these funds.

The revealed recipients of electoral bond funds encompass a range of political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), Shiv Sena, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), and YSR Congress. This data sheds light on the extent and distribution of political funding through electoral bonds. However, the data remains unmatched. In other words, the data does not provide clarity on who contributed to which political party. 

Compliance and Legal Background

The publication of electoral bonds data aligns with the directives issued by the SC, which declared the electoral bonds scheme unconstitutional in a landmark ruling. The court mandated transparency measures, including the disclosure of donor identities, donation amounts, and recipient parties, to enhance accountability in political financing.

The SBI, responsible for issuing electoral bonds, submitted the required details to the ECI as per the Supreme Court’s orders. Despite the bank’s request for an extended deadline until 30th June 2024 for disclosure, the court insisted on immediate compliance, leading to the timely publication of the electoral bonds data by the ECI.

Largest donor to political parties via Electoral Bonds

According to the released electoral bond data, Future Gaming and Hotel Services PR, whose managing director is the well-known lottery magnate Santiago Martin, was the single largest donor to political parties between 12th April 2019 and 24th January 2024. 

Recipients of electoral bond funds

Among parties, the BJP encashed electoral bonds worth ₹6,060.5 crore, the highest among all parties within this period. In fact, the BJP’s share of the total bonds encashed by parties was over 47.5%.

The All India Trinamool Congress received ₹1,609.50 crore (12.6%) via this route, followed by the INC, which received ₹1,421.9 crore (11.1%), the second and third biggest parties in terms of encashment during the period. The BRS (9.5%), Biju Janata Dal (6.1%), and DMK (5%) were the other parties that encashed more than ₹500 crore worth of electoral bonds during this period.

ECI approaches the SC

Even as the ECI released the data on electoral bonds on 15th March 2024, it approached the SC asking it to return the data on the preceding period so that it could also be made public.

A five-judge Constitution Bench presided by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud is likely to take up the ECI application on Friday (today).

The ECI had submitted the details of poll bonds sold and encashed before 12th April 2019 to the SC in accordance with the top court’s interim orders passed on 12th April 2019 and 2nd November 2023.

Click here to view the Data on Purchasers of Electoral Bond

Click here to view the Data on Recipients of Electoral Bonds funds

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