The Ministry of Finance informed the Lok Sabha on Monday that no rules were broken in the issuance of the electoral bonds. Santok Singh Chaudhary, the Congress Lok Sabha MP from Jalandhar had raised questions over various aspects pertaining to the electoral bond. In its written response, the Ministry reiterated that the sale of the electoral bonds was approved by the designated authority. It also maintained that the new system of political funding had ushered in more transparency in comparison to cash donations.
The Finance Ministry’s reply read, “All issuances were scheduled with the approval of the competent authority. The schedule was informed to the public through a Press Communique released in advance from time to time." It added, “As against total non-transparency in the earlier system of cash donations, where the donor, donee, the quantum of donations and the nature of expenditure are all undisclosed, transparency has been introduced in as much as all donors declare in their accounts the amount of bonds that they have purchased, and all parties declare the quantum of bonds that they have received."
The Centre notified the electoral bond scheme on January 2, 2018. Electoral bonds are issued in multiples of Rs.1,000, Rs.10,000 and Rs.1 crore by select State Bank of India (SBI) branches through a KYC-compliant account. According to the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) website, over 12,000 electoral bonds worth Rs.6,128 crore were sold between March 2018 and October 2019. Congress has launched a sustained attack against this scheme alleging that it was a ploy to transfer "black money to the BJP coffers”. Leaders such as Manish Tewari and Rahul Gandhi stepped up their criticism after some media reports claimed that the government had overruled the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to introduce this scheme. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the plea of the ADR seeking a stay on the electoral bonds from January 2020.