Supreme Court schools SBI on electoral bonds: ‘What steps have you taken…?’

The Supreme Court reprimanded SBI for not sharing donor names through electoral bonds with ECI by the deadline. Court rejected SBI's extension plea and ordered details by March 12. ECI instructed to make information public by March 15.

Sounak Mukhopadhyay
Updated11 Mar 2024, 12:49 PM IST
Electoral Bonds Case: State Bank of India (SBI) moved the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time till June 30 to submit details of Electoral Bonds to the Election Commission of India
Electoral Bonds Case: State Bank of India (SBI) moved the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time till June 30 to submit details of Electoral Bonds to the Election Commission of India(ANI)

On March 11, the Supreme Court schooled the State Bank of India (SBI) for failing to follow its directive. The bank was directed to share the names of those who donated through electoral bonds with the Election Commission of India (ECI) by the specified deadline of March 6. However, the national bank sought an extension till June 30.

Electoral Bonds Case Hearing Live Updates

Rejecting the SBI's plea for an extension, the apex court mandated that the bank must provide these details by the end of March 12. Additionally, it instructed the ECI to make this information public on its website by 5 PM on March 15.

During the proceedings, a Constitution bench led by the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, and composed of justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, questioned the SBI about its inaction over the past 26 days.

“In the last 26 days, what steps have you taken? Your application is silent on that,” SBI was asked by the five-judge Constitution bench of the top court.

Also Read: ‘Tough stand, excellent..,' See how leaders react to Supreme Court directing SBI to disclose details of electoral bonds

The bench emphasised the simplicity of the court's order, which required the SBI to merely open the sealed covers containing the bond details, organise the information and submit it to the ECI.

“The SBI has to just open the sealed cover, collate details and give information to the Election Commission,” the bench said.

This issue arose from the SBI's request for more time to reveal the identities of donors who had contributed to political parties through electoral bonds. 

At the same time, the court also considered a separate petition that sought to hold the SBI in contempt for not complying with its earlier order.

Electoral bond: A timeline

On February 15, a group of five judges decided that the government's plan for electoral bonds was not allowed by the law. It ordered that details about who gave money, how much, and who received it must be shared by March 13.

The State Bank of India (SBI), which handles these bonds, was told to give information on bonds bought since April 12, 2019, to the Election Commission by March 6. This info was supposed to be made public on the Election Commission's website by March 13.

But, on March 4, SBI asked the Supreme Court if they could wait until June 30 to share this information because it takes a lot of work to gather and check the data.

Two NGOs, the Association for Democratic Reforms and Common Cause, asked the court to take action against SBI for not following the court's orders. The organisations think SBI is trying to keep the donor’s identity secret as political parties head the next big election, Lok Sabha Election 2024. They argue that knowing where the money comes from is important for voters to understand who supports political parties. This openness helps voters make better choices and is a key part of democracy.

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First Published:11 Mar 2024, 12:49 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaSupreme Court schools SBI on electoral bonds: ‘What steps have you taken…?’

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