Electoral Bonds: 'What Have You Done In The Last 26 Days', SC Asks SBI

Electoral Bonds: 'What Have You Done In The Last 26 Days', SC Asks SBI

Led by CJI Chandrachud, the Supreme Court bench will include Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, who will convene at 10:30 am to hear both petitions.

Tejas JoshiUpdated: Monday, March 11, 2024, 11:29 AM IST
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Electoral Bonds: SC To Hear SBI's Plea Shortly Seeking Extension To Reveal Poll Bond Info Amid 'Contempt' Demand |

In a much anticipated confrontation, the Supreme Court today commenced hearing the application filed by the State Bank of India (SBI), requesting an extension until June 30 to disclose the specifics of each electoral bond redeemed by political parties before the program was terminated last month.

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud leads a five-judge Constitution bench overseeing the matter. The Supreme Court bench, including Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, convened at 10:30 am to hear both petitions.

Contempt petition against State Bank of India

Additionally, the bench will address a separate plea that calls for contempt proceedings against the SBI. This plea accuses the bank of intentionally disregarding the Supreme Court's directive to provide details of political party contributions via electoral bonds to the Election Commission by March 6.

The Supreme Court dealt a significant blow to the electoral bonds scheme, that allowed for anonymous political funding. The Apex court struck down the contentious scheme in a landmark verdict on February 15.

The Supreme Court ruled the scheme as "unconstitutional" and directed the Election Commission to reveal the contributors, the donated amounts, and the recipients by March 13.

SBI's justification on seeking more time

Subsequently, the Supreme Court instructed the State Bank of India (SBI), the authorised financial institution under the scheme, to furnish the details of the electoral bonds purchased from April 12, 2019, to the present to the Election Commission by March 6. The Election Commission was then directed to publish this information on its official website by March 13.

On March 4, the SBI petitioned the Supreme Court for an extension until June 30 to disclose the particulars of the electoral bonds redeemed by political parties. The SBI argued that gathering information from various sources and the process of cross-referencing data would be time-consuming. The application highlighted that ensuring donor anonymity involved complex procedures, making it challenging to decode electoral bonds and match donors to their contributions.

"It submitted that the data related to the issuance of the bond and the data related to the redemption of the bond was kept recorded in two different silos. No central database was maintained. This was done to ensure that donors' anonymity would be protected," it said.

"It is submitted that donor details were kept in a sealed cover at the designated branches and all such sealed covers were deposited in the main branch of the applicant bank, which is located in Mumbai," it said.

Following this, an independent plea was submitted to the Supreme Court, calling for contempt action against the State Bank of India (SBI) for purportedly failing to comply with the directives of the Supreme Court.

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