Know Your Governance: Here’s All You Need To Know About Electoral Bonds- Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part series based on HuffPost India’s investigation on the electoral bonds scheme. Read the first part here.

Surpassing every concern and suggestion, the BJP government first legalized the controversial electoral bonds scheme and then, in January 2018, notified rules for the same. According to these rules, SBI would sell these bonds to the donors in four 10-day windows in January, April, July, and October every year and an additional 30-day window in the years of a general election. These bonds needed to be redeemed within 15 days from the date of purchase by the political parties. This limited sale window was a measure suggested by the RBI as a precaution against money laundering (Original RBI’s recommendation was to sell bonds only twice a year for a short duration of time).

Image used for representation purpose.

But just before the May 2018 Karnataka state elections, Finance Ministry opened an extra ten days window as an exceptional case on the instructions of Prime Minister’s Office as claimed in the files of Finance Ministry itself. Exacerbating the situation that started as an exception became a precedent, and another particular window for selling of electoral bonds was opened in November 2018, ahead of significant assembly elections of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, and Telangana. This time the source of this instruction was not mentioned.

The suit was emulated before the 2019 general elections as well, where the Union government insisted on an extension of 5 days to the 30-day window. However, this time the Supreme Court, who was hearing petitions challenging the validity of this scheme, asked the government not to violate any defined rules.

The core argument of introducing the electoral bonds scheme was to ensure anonymity to donors who express reluctance in donating by cheque or other transparent methods as it would disclose their identity and entail adverse consequences as claimed by the government. Nevertheless, there exists a serial number on the electoral bonds to keep an audit trail with the SBI, which can be provided to the enforcement agencies requested. This implies that a donor will never get anonymity from the government of the day, and the only people in the dark will be the opposition parties and the citizens.

On the contrary, another RTI filed by Venkatesh Nayak showed that no representation or petition or communication was being received from any unspecified donor, regarding the need for maintaining the confidentiality of their identity while making donations to political parties.

Furthermore, another bill that needs to be amended to make the electoral bonds scheme a reality was the Companies Act, which permitted only profit-making companies to donate money to a political party. The provision had also put a cap on the donations that companies could make annually and forced them to disclose to which party they were donating money. However, lacking a majority in Rajya Sabha at that time which might lead to obstruction in passing the proposed amendments. Hence, the government decided to add the most controversial parts of the amendment in Money Bill because, under Article 110 of the Indian Constitution, a money bill does not require to be passed by the Rajya Sabha.

To proceed with this route of bypassing Rajya Sabha, Law Ministry was consulted, which responded that this illegal step was a one-off exception and urged the government to “avoid considering this practice as a precedent.” The law ministry concluded that “in a strict sense it may not be considered as a money bill,” but signed off anyway according to the documents obtained by transparency activist Saurav Das, a member of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI).

Another interesting point to note in context to this whole scheme is that the banking fees, commissions, printing costs, and associated charges with electoral bonds are neither paid by the anonymous donor nor the recipient political party. The money is paid from the Consolidated Fund of India, a Government of India account that includes all direct and indirect tax revenues. Hence, ordinary citizens end up paying for providing a secure infrastructure of banking channels, accounts, and printing presses that facilitate political donations.

Currently, the Supreme Court of India is hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in 2017 by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) seeking a stay on the scheme. An interim order in early 2018 put some curbs on the scheme, but a final decision in the matter is still pending from the Apex court. Meanwhile, the Central Information Commission (CIC) asked the government in January to reveal the names of those who requested that donors buying electoral bonds remain anonymous.

 All the documents related to this series can be accessed here.

Similar Posts

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below