The sale of the 29th tranche of electoral bonds started on Monday amidst assembly elections in five states -- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram.
This round of electoral bonds comes in a short interval of about a month after the 28th phase, which opened for sale on October 4.
The government approved issuance of the latest round of electoral bonds, days after the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the electoral bonds scheme for funding political parties.
On October 31, a five-judge constitution bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra commenced hearing arguments on the four petitions, including those filed by Congress leader Jaya Thakur, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
After the detailed hearing on the matter, the apex court reserved the judgement on November 2. Two days after this, the government issued notification for issuance of latest round electoral bonds.
It is to be noted that Mizoram and the first phase of Chhattisgarh assembly polls are to be held on November 7. The polling in all these five states would end on November 30, and counting of votes would be done on December 3.
The Electoral Bonds scheme, which was notified by the government on January 2, 2018, was pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring in transparency in political funding.
"Government of India has authorised State Bank of India (SBI), in the XXIX Phase of sale, to issue and encash Electoral Bonds through its 29 Authorised Branches w.e.f. November 6-20, 2023," the finance ministry had said in a statement.
Electoral bonds are encashed by an eligible political party only through a bank account with the authorised bank. SBI is the only authorised bank to issue electoral bonds.
The authorised SBI branches include those in Bengaluru, Lucknow, Shimla, Dehradun, Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai, Patna, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Raipur, and Mumbai.
The finance ministry further said electoral bonds will be valid for 15 calendar days from the date of issue and no payment will be made to any payee political party if the bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period.
"The electoral bond deposited by an eligible political party in its account shall be credited on the same day," it added.