The government on Tuesday said the electoral bonds, which are used to make anonymous political donations, carry a serial number as part of in-built security feature to prevent counterfeiting but the number is not accessible to anybody, including the government.
Maintaining that the anonymity of the donors is maintained, the finance ministry in a statement said the random serial number on the bonds is not visible to naked eye and the same is not even noted by the issuing bank, the SBI.
In a bid to clean up election funding, the government had in January introduced electoral bonds that can be bought from specified branches of State Bank of India and used to donate money to political parties.
The bearer instrument do not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 0.1 million, Rs 1 million or Rs 10 million.
"The purchaser is allowed to buy electoral bond(s) only on due fulfilment of all the extant KYC norms and by making payment from a bank account. The Bond does not carry the name of payee or any other details by which the buyer can be identified. Likewise, no detail of political party depositing the bonds is noted on the electoral bonds. Thus, any particular bond cannot be identified or associated with any particular buyer or political party deposits it," it said.
Although called a bond, they are interest-free debt instruments that resemble promissory notes where the SBI will be the custodian of the donor's funds until the political parties are paid.
They have a life of only 15 days, during which it can be used for making donation only to registered political parties, and can be encashed only through a designated bank account of the receiver.
"The Electoral Bonds have some built-in security features to eliminate chances of forgery or presentation of fake bonds. These include a random serial number invisible to the naked eye," the statement said.
This number, it said, is not noted by the SBI in any record associated with the buyer or political party depositing a particular electoral bond.
"It is, thus not linked to any party transaction when the bank issues a bond to the buyer. As such the number is not being used or can be used to track the donation or the buyer," it said. "SBI does not share the serial number with anybody, including the Government and users."
The bonds are available for purchase for 10 days each in the months of January, April, July and October. The window would be for 30 days in the year of a general election.