ECI Unveils Electoral Bonds Data Post Supreme Court’s Transparency Directive

Election Commission

New Delhi: In a decisive move for transparency in political funding, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made public the comprehensive data on electoral bonds, following the Supreme Court’s directive to uphold the constitutional mandate for disclosure. The detailed data, revealing the identities of donors and recipients, marks a significant shift from the erstwhile anonymous political donations system.

The Election Commission of India, adhering to the Supreme Court’s orders, has taken a pivotal step towards transparency by publishing detailed electoral bonds data on its official website. This data, provided by the State Bank of India (SBI), includes intricate details such as the date of purchase, the names of the purchasers, and the denominations of the bonds, which can be accessed at the ECI’s portal for candidates and political party information.

The Supreme Court is poised to deliberate on a plea by the ECI this Friday, seeking to modify or clarify the court’s order from March 11. The ECI has also requested the release of documents previously submitted in sealed covers to the apex court.

Reflecting on the landmark judgment from February 15, the five-judge Constitution bench deemed the Centre’s electoral bonds scheme unconstitutional. The scheme, which permitted anonymous funding to political parties, was struck down, and the EC was instructed to disclose the identities of donors, the amounts donated, and the recipients by March 13.

In a compliance affidavit to the Supreme Court, SBI disclosed that a staggering 22,217 electoral bonds were purchased by political parties between April 1, 2019, and February 15, 2024, with 22,030 of these bonds being redeemed. SBI Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara confirmed that the bank had provided all required details to the ECI by March 12, as per the court’s directive.

The affidavit further segmented the data, revealing that between April 1, 2019, and April 11, 2019, a total of 3,346 electoral bonds were purchased, with 1,609 redeemed.

Election Commission

Among the top 50 donors, prominent names such as steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, telecommunications giant Airtel, and mining conglomerate Vedanta stood out. Future Gaming, previously investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, was noted for purchasing electoral bonds worth over Rs 1,350 crore. Vedanta Ltd. acquired bonds amounting to Rs 398 crore, while Airtel’s three companies collectively bought bonds valued at Rs 246 crore. Lakshmi Niwas Mittal individually purchased Rs 35 crore worth of bonds.

The list of electoral bond buyers, as disclosed by the ECI, includes notable corporations such as Spicejet, IndiGo, Grasim Industries, Megha Engineering, and many others, reflecting a broad spectrum of industries engaging in political funding. This disclosure is expected to bring a new level of accountability to the political financing landscape in India.