How The Quint's Poonam Agarwal Exposed Hidden Numbers on Electoral Bonds

The Supreme Court on Monday, 18 March, directed the SBI to disclose the alphanumeric numbers of all electoral bonds.

Poonam Agarwal
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>The Supreme Court on Monday, 18 March, directed the State Bank of India to disclose the unique alphanumeric numbers of all the electoral bonds issued and/or encashed.</p></div>
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The Supreme Court on Monday, 18 March, directed the State Bank of India to disclose the unique alphanumeric numbers of all the electoral bonds issued and/or encashed.

(Photo: The Quint)

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The Supreme Court on Monday, 18 March, directed the State Bank of India to disclose the unique alphanumeric numbers of all the electoral bonds issued and/or encashed.

But how did we come to know about the existence of the unique numbers for each bond?

Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had claimed that electoral bonds are an anonymous instrument. "How much each donor has distributed to a political party would be known only to the donor," he had said in 2018.

I had purchased two electoral bonds from SBI in April 2018. After running forensic tests on these bonds, I found that they were actually not 'anonymous'.

My investigation for The Quint revealed that these electoral bonds actually carried unique alphanumeric numbers which were not visible to the naked eye – they could only be seen under the UV light on the right-hand side at the top corner of the bonds.

For example: the first bond that was purchased on 5 April 2018 carried a unique number OT 015101.

Similarly, the second bond purchased on 9 April 2018 had the number OT 015102.

Our investigation has come full circle after six long years after the Supreme Court has deemed these bonds as "unconstitutional", and ordered the SBI to reveal all its data, including the unique numbers.

These numbers will help establish a direct connection between the donors and the political parties.

As we wait for unique numbers, you can follow our extensive coverage on the electoral bonds here.

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