An activist’s Right to Information (RTI) request reveals that the first set of electoral bonds were printed in February 2018 and put on sale on March 1, despite no sale window in March.
In reply to an RTI request by transparency campaigner Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd), the bonds weren’t sold in January 2018, which would have been the first window after the scheme began.
Based on an RTI response on November 29, India Security Press, Nashik, which prints electoral bonds, says 1,71,250 and 4,33,000 bonds were published on February 23 and March 1, respectively, in 2018.
In March 2018, the first tranche began selling ahead of the Karnataka elections in May 2018, with Assembly elections in Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya just finished.
222 crore in electoral bonds were sold between March 1 and 9 in 2018 at four branches of the State Bank of India (SBI), the only bank authorized for the job, according to an RTI response by SBI in 2019.
In his 2017-18 Budget speech, then-Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018, notified by the ministry on January 2, 2018. Every January, April, July, and October, the bonds would be sold for 10 days, with an additional 30-day period in a Lok Sabha election year.
This year the scheme was amended to allow 15 extra sale days with Assembly elections while keeping the rest of the sale windows the same.