Electoral Bonds: Supreme Court to hear SBI’s plea seeking extension for disclosures today | Top 10 Updates

Electoral Bonds: A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud will also hear a separate plea, which seeks contempt action against the SBI for ‘wilfully and deliberately’ disobeying the apex court’s March 6 deadline for submission of details to the Election Commission

Livemint, Written By Jocelyn Fernandes
Updated11 Mar 2024, 07:58 AM IST
SBI on March 4 requested the Supreme Court an extension to provide the Election Commission with the required information regarding electoral bonds. It missed its deadline on March 6
SBI on March 4 requested the Supreme Court an extension to provide the Election Commission with the required information regarding electoral bonds. It missed its deadline on March 6(Hindustan Times)

The Supreme Court will today, Monday, March 11, hear the State Bank of India’s application seeking an extension till June 30 to disclose details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties. 

Besides this, the five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud will also hear a separate plea seeking contempt action against SBI for allegedly “wilfully and deliberately” disobeying the SC’s deadline for submission of details. The petition was filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on March 7.

A five-judge bench headed by CJI Chandrachud also comprises Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra. Both pleas are scheduled to be heard at 10.30 am today, Monday, March 11.

The apex court had, in an order on February 15, scrapped Electoral Bonds and directed India’s largest public bank, SBI, to submit all details regarding the same to the Election Commission of India by March 6. Further, the ECI was directed to publish the received data on its website by March 13.

Ahead of the hearing, here is all you need to know about the case.

Also Read | Supreme Court strikes down Electoral Bond Scheme: What is it? Who has the most funding? and concerns explained

Top 10 Updates

— The Supreme Court on February 15 scrapped the Electoral Bond Scheme that allowed anonymous funding to political parties. The apex court said that the Scheme violates the right to information (RTI) and can lead to quid pro quo. “The Electoral Bonds Scheme is not the only scheme to curb black money. There are other alternatives,” the top court had said in its verdict.

— The Supreme Court said infringement of the Right to Information (RTI) is not justified to curb black money. “There are other alternatives which substantially fulfil the purpose and impact the right to information minimally when compared to the impact of electoral bonds on the right to information,” SC said, as quoted by LiveLaw.

— The Supreme Court instructed SBI, the authorised financial institution, to submit details of electoral bonds purchased from April 12, 2019 onwards by March 6, 2024. However, the bank missed this deadline.

— The details to be shared by SBI included disclosure of each electoral bond encashed by the political parties, which shall include the date of encashment and the denomination of the electoral bond.

— Notably, the EC has been directed to publish the disclosed information on its official website by March 13. Whether this deadline will be met now remains uncertain. 

— SBI had on March 4 requested an extension until June 30 to disclose details. In its plea, SBI argued that retrieving information from various sources and matching data between silos would be time-consuming.

— SBI said the complexity of matching donors to donations is due to the anonymous nature of the process. It added that donor details were kept in sealed covers at designated branches for anonymity.

— The NGOs, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Common Cause filed a contempt plea against SBI for alleged disobedience of the court’s directives. It claimed a deliberate attempt to withhold donor information before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

— The contempt plea argued that the Electoral Bond Scheme’s anonymity contradicts participatory democracy and citizens’ right to information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. It also noted the traceability of electoral bonds through SBI’s secret number-based records.

— According to the annual audited report submitted to the EC by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the saffron party received nearly 1,300 crore through electoral bonds in 2022-23. The party’s total contributions stood at 2,120 crore in the 2022-23 fiscal, of which 61 percent came from electoral bonds. The funding from electoral bonds to the Congress was 171 crore in 2022-23, down from 236 crore in 2021-22.

(With inputs from PTI)

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First Published:11 Mar 2024, 07:58 AM IST
HomeNewsIndiaElectoral Bonds: Supreme Court to hear SBI’s plea seeking extension for disclosures today | Top 10 Updates

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