Amidst assembly elections in four states and a Union territory, the government on Tuesday approved issuance of the 16th tranche of electoral bonds which will be open for sale from April 1 to 10.
Electoral bonds have been pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in political funding. However, Opposition parties have been raising concerns about alleged opaqueness in funding through such bonds.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has accorded 'no objection' from the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) angle on March 17 with certain conditions, including that no political functionary would make any reference in this regard during any public speech or communication to the press or public in the constituencies going for polls, the finance ministry said in a statement.
"The State Bank of India (SBI), in the XVI Phase of sale, has been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds through its 29 authorised branches w.e.f. 01.04.2021 to 10.04.2021," it said.
The 29 specified SBI branches are in cities such as Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, Srinagar, Dehradun, Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Raipur, Mumbai, and Lucknow. The sale of the first batch of electoral bonds took place from March 1-10, 2018.
The 15th tranche of bond sale took place from January 1 to January 10, 2021.
Last week, Supreme Court refused to stay the sale of these bonds during the assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
According to provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds can be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India or entities incorporated or established in India. Registered political parties that have secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes polled in the last election of Lok Sabha or legislative assembly are eligible to receive electoral bonds.
SBI is the only authorised bank to issue such bonds.
An electoral bond will be valid for 15 days from the date of issue. No payment would be made to any payee political party if the bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period, as per the statement.
The bond deposited by any eligible political party into its account would be credited on the same day.