Electoral bonds | As government seeks more time, RTI activist says SBI gave data two months ago

RTI activist Kanhaiya Kumar had received a reply from the SBI, the only bank authorised to sell the bonds, on May 14 to his query.

A day after the Finance Ministry told the Rajya Sabha it needed more time to furnish data on sale of electoral bonds as asked by an MP, RTI activist Kanhaiya Kumar said on Wednesday the details had been provided to him via an RTI reply by the SBI two months ago.

Trinamool Congress MP Santanu Sen had sought the details of the sale of the bonds during the 15th and 16th phase, which was in the run-up to the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Puducherry, Assam and Kerala from March to May. Mr. Sen also asked about the bonds sold since the scheme started in 2018 and the cost of printing the same.

“The government seeks more time to furnish the replies,” the written reply by Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary said on Tuesday.

Mr. Kumar, a Bihar-based RTI activist, had received a reply from the SBI, the only bank authorised to sell the bonds, on May 14 to his query. As reported by The Hindu on May 18, the SBI reply had said bonds worth ₹695.34 crore had been sold from April 1 till 10. The SBI had declined to share the details of the political parties that encashed them and the commission it earned from the sales, both of which were asked by Mr. Sen too.

“The questions are submitted 15 days in advance. The SBI has already provided this information in response to my RTI query. So it’s quite obvious that they have information in requisite format. Still, the Ministry says it needs more time to furnish the replies,” Mr. Kumar said.

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