The Electoral Bond Data Should be in the Public Domain!

Electoral Bond Data
  • As the Indian citizens would vouch unequivocally, every aspect associated with the political class and various parties spread around including the national and regional ones is more opaque than transparent. Especially when it comes to matters of internal party governance and most importantly, the fund collection part, none of the mainstream political parties can lay claim to being transparent in its dealings. As it is, the Indian citizens are most cynical when it comes to everything remotely associated with politics. Transparency in its overall functioning is not a strong point by any stretch of the imagination since opaqueness rules the roost at every turn concerning politics. Several efforts are/were afoot to introduce transparency. Let’s delve into this.

Electoral Bond

PC: The Hindu

  • One such half-hearted measure was the introduction of Electoral Bonds (EBs) vis-à-vis political funding from unknown sources. As you are aware, the Supreme Court recently struck down the EBs as unconstitutional and asked the State Bank of India to pass all relevant data related to the same to the Election Commission of India for uploading on the website. Though SBI sought further time from the SC citing huge data, the Apex Court simply dismissed the plea by sticking to its earlier deadline. Further, last week also capped an embarrassing few days for SBI in SC. India’s largest commercial bank was pulled up for submitting incomplete info to the EC on EBs. It was the second time SBI found itself at the receiving end. Let’s dig deeper to understand the same.
  • Court transcripts of the proceedings showed a mix of physical and digital storage at SBI to maintain confidentiality. Info was broken up and stored in silos. Info on the name of EB purchasers and related KYC were stored physically. Bond numbers were stored digitally. SBI has submitted EB details without passing on bond numbers. Soon after EBs were notified in Jan 2018, GOI put out a statement explaining that EBs do not carry names. Neither donor nor recipient can be identified. However, each bond carries a random serial number invisible to the naked eye to prevent forgery during encashment. SBI did not hand over info on the serial numbers to EC.

The Electoral Bond Data

PC: Boom Fact Check

  • Consequently, SBI’s lawyers have a lot of explaining to do in SC. EC was in SC recently to ask for the return of EB data related to the period before LS 2019. It had submitted the data in a sealed envelope. EC didn’t keep a copy – to preserve confidentiality, it says. SC will scan and digitize EB info before returning the original to EC. Intriguingly, the maze of silos that characterized EB data storage has made retrieval a complicated affair. Once EC has the complete info on EBs, including bond numbers, it should put it all out for transparency. That was the main message of SC’s judgment. Of course, the voter has a right to know. This issue has already raked up considerable controversy and will be milked in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls by all political parties.

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Krishna MV
Krishna is a Post Graduate with specialization in English Literature and Human Resource Management, respectively. Having served the Indian Air Force with distinction for 16 years, Armed Forces background definitely played a very major role in shaping as to who & what he is right now. Presently, he is employed as The Administrator of a well known educational institute in Bangalore. He is passionate about sharing thoughts by writing articles on the current affairs / topics with insightful dissection and offering counter / alternate views thrown in for good measure. Also, passionate about Cricket, Music – especially vintage Kannada & Hindi film songs, reading – non-fictional & Self-Help Books, and of course, fitness without compromising on the culinary pleasures.