Business Standard

Firms report electoral bonds under donations, miscellane­ous expenses

- KRISHNA KANT Mumbai, 15 March

With no template to follow, many large listed companies have reported purchases of electoral bonds and other political contributi­ons in their annual reports in various formats.

The data is shown under “miscellane­ous expenses and donations” with a note explaining the amount spent on electoral bonds or contributi­ons to political parties.

A reading of the reports suggests that there is no standard practice for reporting political contributi­ons and it is left to the company’s discretion to report them as they find fit. Many companies have clubbed all donations without giving a breakup, while a lot of large purchasers have not mentioned bonds in their annual reports at all (see the adjoining chart).

According to annual report filings, mining and metal major Vedanta spent the most on electoral bonds in FY23, followed by Bharti Airtel and Jindal Steel & Power.

Vedanta bought electoral bonds worth ~155 crore in FY23, up from the ~123 crore in FY22. Bharti Airtel, on the other hand, spent ~30 crore on electoral bonds in FY23, a decline from the ~102.5 crore a year earlier.

Other large companies that reported purchases of electoral bonds or political contributi­ons in FY23 include Mahindra & Mahindra (~25 crore), Cipla (~24.2 crore), Torrent Power (~23 crore), Aurobindo Pharma (~21.5 crore), Maruti Suzuki (~20 crore) and Hero Motocorp (~20 crore).

For example, according to the data released by the Election Commission of India, Dr Reddy’s Labs purchased electoral bonds worth ~80 crore between 2019 and 2024 but there is no mention of it in the company’s annual report. Similar expenses do not find any reference in the annual reports of Divi’s Laboratori­es, PCBL, and Torrent Pharmaceut­icals among major contributo­rs.

Besides, many large political contributo­rs such as Hindalco Industries, DLF, UPL, and Zydus Lifescienc­es have bought electoral bonds through their unlisted subsidiari­es, eliminatin­g the need to report it in the annual reports of the parent companies.

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