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Monday, January 13, 2020

RTI is not enough to disclose political fund?

By on Monday, January 13, 2020

The State Bank of India has denied to divulge the buyer’s name of  Rs above one crores denomination bonds who had bought to donate in election. It is important that the CIC central information commission had, two days ago, asked the Union Government who had demanded to keep the donor's’ name under electoral bond scheme to be classified.
Anjali Bharadwaj, the social worker who is carrying out a campaign for the accountability and the transparency, had asked four questions from SBI under the law of Right to Information Act. The questions are as follows: Since January 2, 2018 till the application filed date, how many bonds were sold; how much of cost price these were; the numbers of 'denomination bonds' under the price range worth Rs above one crore; and who were the buyers? The questions were queried from the 29 branches of SBI.
23 of the 29 branches replied. The bonds 11,770 of worth Rs 5936.7 crore have been sold. The 5463 bonds are worth of one crore denomination; namely, the gross fund of 92 per cent was donated from the bonds of Rs one crore. The six branches of banks have not yet sent their replies.
All the branches of SBI did not informed to having told the reasons of secrecy of doners and made reference to the sections 8-1(e) and 8-1(j) of RTI act. Anjali Bharadwaj said, “ When the government was drafting the electoral bond scheme, the first of scheme texture it had been decided that who bought the bonds would be out of the purview of RTI, but we are aware that in the final draft texture of the scheme it was not added. It has been removed. It is clear what we have asked the information – all are under the perview of law.
It is important that the CIC had directed to the government about to tell who had demanded to keep secret the donor's name through electoral bod scheme. The CIC had expressed it displeasure over this – that the filed RTI in this connection are replied half-baked. On Venktesh Naik, RTI worker who filed an appeal, Information Commissioner, Mr Suresh Chandra, had issued notice to the Public Information Officers of economic wing in finance ministry. The notice said why they should not be punished by the fines of not giving the information within the 30 days.
Anybody, organisation, NGO or corporate can buy fives separate denomination bonds for the election donation under the electoral bonds scheme launched in January 2018 by Modi government. These bonds are in the range of 10 thousand, one lac, 10 lacs and one crore. However there is no limit to donate the party under this scheme.
Amrita Johary, the social worker, is to say whatever the reasons by banks for not disclosing the names are not correct, she says, “it is clear in RTI law that if the asked informations are in the public interest, that should be given.” She adds, “the election is the play of money and the buyers of above Rs one crore are either big industrialists or the influential men who can affect over the policies of government – so this RTI cannot be ignored.”
The information collected through the RTI appeal by Anjali Bharadwaj tells that the maximum bonds had been sold by SBI’s Mumbai branch, which are worth of Rs 1879 crore. The 95 per cent fund for the donation were bought from the Denomination Bonds of Rs one crore. Then the chronologically were bought in ascending order from SBI branch Kolkata, Delhi, and Hyderabad. The 90 per cent of donation fund’s bonds Rs above one crore were bought from here.
According to the organisation, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), working for the transparency in election, more than 12000 bonds of Rs 6128 crore so far have been bought. The 60 per cent of gross donation through the bonds in the FY 2018-19 was credited in the account of BJP.
There have been controversies on the electoral bonds issue. However the government kept on saying that this scheme was dutiful to prevent the black money in the election. There is to be heard the case in the apex court this month.However SBI is going to open another window to buy electoral bonds since Monday this week. There can be bought electoral bonds since 13 January to 22 January. The founder of ADR Jagdeep Chhoker says, “After the directives of CIC the banks must disclose the donor's’ name. They shall have to disclose the donor’s name; but they are suppressing the information—this shows that there is some bungling.”