Electoral bond: Why did the apex court deny pre-2019 data?

On Monday, March 18, the Supreme Court declined to order the disclosure of electoral bond details starting from their initial issuance date of March 1, 2018

electoral bond

Dev and his father are sitting at the dining table, having breakfast. His father is reading the newspaper. 

On Monday, March 18, the Supreme Court declined to order the disclosure of electoral bond details starting from their initial issuance date of March 1, 2018,” reads Dev’s father.

“What is it?” Dev asks


Father: The Supreme Court of India has been dealing with a case regarding the disclosure of details related to electoral bonds.

Dev: What is an electoral bond?

Father: Electoral bonds are used for political donations in India, which were introduced in 2018 by the government to promote transparency in political funding.

Court’s Decision

Dev: So why is it in the news?

Father: The Supreme Court has refused to direct disclosure of electoral bond details from March 2018, the date of their issuance, until April 11, 2019. Instead, the court has only directed the SBI (State Bank of India) to disclose information about bonds sold from April 12, 2019, until February 15, 2024, when it declared the scheme unconstitutional.

Dev: So this court’s order was based on a previous order, right?

Father: Yes, the current court’s decision is based on its interim order on April 2, 2019, when a bench headed by former chief justice Ranjan Gogoi directed all political parties to provide the Election Commission of India (ECI) details regarding the electoral bonds received by them.

Dev: What about the current court’s decision?

Father: So, the current decision was made by a five-judge bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachur. The court explained that its decision to start disclosure on April 12, 2019, was a conscious choice. After its interim order on that date, donors were aware of a potential disclosure requirement. So it was fair to start from that point to avoid unfairness to donors.

Dev: But who applied to disclose details?

 Father: The application was filed by a non-profit organization, seeking disclosure of electoral bond details from March 2019. The court said that changing the date for disclosure would require a major change in the judgment, which cannot be done through a miscellaneous application.

Requirement for Disclosure and Future Disclosure

Dev: And what is a requirement for disclosure?

Father: The court clarified that the SBI must provide all details, including alphanumeric and serial numbers, of bonds purchased after April 11, 2019. The SBI chairperson was directed to file an affidavit confirming that all details have been disclosed.

Dev: Then?

Father: The election commission of India was directed to immediately upload the details received from the SBI on its website to ensure transparency.

Dev: So, the Supreme Court’s decision indicates its commitment to transparency in political funding while also balancing the rights of donors.

Father: Right, the clarification regarding the disclosure date and the requirement for comprehensive disclosure by the SBI aims to enhance accountability in political donations.

Dev: Hmm, so thank you for giving me knowledge about this. 

 Father: I’m glad you found the information useful. Now get ready for college 

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1. What are electoral bonds?

Electoral bonds are financial instruments for making donations to political parties in India. They were introduced in 2018 to promote transparency.

2. How do electoral bonds work?

They are similar to promissory notes and can be purchased from specified branches of the State Bank of India (SBI) and donated to political parties, who can encash them through their bank accounts.

3. What is the controversy?

Critics argue that the anonymity of electoral bonds undermines transparency in political funding and can lead to undisclosed influence over political parties. They also raise concerns about the lack of disclosure requirements for parties receiving these bonds.

4. What is the Supreme Court’s recent order regarding electoral bonds?

The Supreme Court has ordered that details of electoral bonds issued between March 1, 2018, and April 12, 2019, will not be disclosed. Disclosure is required only for bonds sold after April 12, 2019, until the scheme is declared unconstitutional on February 15, 2024.

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