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Electoral Bonds: What Is It, How To Buy?

The government has approved the issuance of the 21st tranche of electoral bonds, which will open for sale from July 1. The bonds will be available for purchase between July 1 and July 10. The 20th tranche of bond sales had taken place from April 1 to April 10, 2022. Here’s what are electoral bonds and how can you buy these:

What Are Electoral Bonds?

Electoral bonds have been pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in the political funding. These bonds can be bought by any citizen of India or entity incorporated or established in the country. A person can buy the bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals. The purchaser would be allowed to buy electoral bond(s) only on due fulfilment of all the extant KYC norms and by making payment from a bank account. It will not carry the name of the payee.

The bonds are available for purchase for a period of 10 days each in the months of January, April, July and October. Now, the electoral bonds can be bought between July 1 and July 10.

Only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and that secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha or state elections, are eligible to receive the electoral bonds.

The bonds were introduced in 2017 to to cleanse the system of political funding in the country. In his Budget Speech on February 1, 2017, then finance minister Arun Jaitley said: “Even 70 years after Independence, the country has not been able to evolve a transparent method of funding political parties which is vital to the system of free and fair elections…Political parties continue to receive most of their funds through anonymous donations which are shown in cash. An effort, therefore, requires to be made to cleanse the system of political funding in India.”

Where Can You Buy Electoral Bonds?

The bonds can be bought from the 29 authorised branches of the government-owned State Bank of India (SBI) in the multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore. The authorised SBI branches are in Lucknow, Shimla, Dehradun Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai, Patna, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Raipur, and Mumbai.

The receiving political party can redeem the bonds within 15 days of the date of issue. If the bonds are not redeemed within 15 days, no payment is made to the party. The redeemed amount is credited into the political party’s account on the same day as the bond is deposited with the bank. The electoral bonds will be encashed by an eligible political party only through a bank account with the authorised bank.

The electoral bonds can be bought from any authorised branch of SBI by paying digitally or through a cheque. Cash is not allowed. The donor then can hand over the bonds to the political party of his/ her choice, which can encash them within 15 days of the date of issue.