Modi government violated rules to allow sale of electoral bonds, RTI reply shows

The bonds were sold before and after assembly elections in nine states in 2018, allegedly outside the purview of the law.

WrittenBy:Ayush Tiwari
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The document was prepared by the Budget Division of the Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance.

The government’s bonds sale ostensibly violates the periodicity section of the Electoral Bonds Scheme 2018. It says: “Bonds under this Scheme shall be available for purchase by any person for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and October as may be specified by the Central Government.”

Another clause in the section adds that bonds can be sold in “an additional period of thirty days” that “shall be specified by the Central Government in the year of general elections to the House of People.”

General elections in India were held in April and May 2019.

Batra told Newslaundry that the government's decision to open the sale in March 2018 has a “colour of illegality”. “In 2018, If the government did not conduct sale of electoral bonds in the month of January as prescribed in the notification, the law did not and even now does not provide an option to the government to hold the sale of electoral bonds in lieu on any alternative month.”

On the sale in May and November, the activist said the law also did not allow the government to “open special sale windows during the assembly elections” which were “clearly against the law of the land that existed at that time”.

Earlier this month, on November 7, five days before the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, the Modi government amended the Electoral Bonds Scheme to allow the sale of electoral bonds before assembly elections.

The amendment inserted a new clause to the periodicity section of the act. The clause said that the scheme will provide “an additional period of 15 days” to sell bonds “in the year of general elections to the Legislative Assembly of States and Union Territories with Legislature”.

Electoral bonds, introduced controversially by former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in 2017-18, have been criticised for reducing transparency of political funding in India.

Data shows that the governing Bharatiya Janata Party has profited the most from the bonds.

Newslaundry reached out to the Ministry of Finance and the Election Commission for comments. This report will be updated if we receive a response.

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