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Business News/ Politics / News/  Electoral Bonds: 5 key highlights of SC verdict rejecting SBI's time-extension plea to disclose details
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Electoral Bonds: 5 key highlights of SC verdict rejecting SBI's time-extension plea to disclose details

The Supreme Court has asked the SBI to share the details of Electoral Bonds with the Election Commission of India (ECI) by tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12. The poll panel has been asked to publish the details on its website by 5 pm on Friday, March 15

Supreme Court has rejected SBI's extension plea on Electoral Bonds (HT_PRINT)Premium
Supreme Court has rejected SBI's extension plea on Electoral Bonds (HT_PRINT)

The Supreme Court of India, on Monday, turned down the State Bank of India’s (SBI) request seeking an extension of time to disclose details of the Electoral Bonds Scheme.

The top court has asked the SBI to share the details with the Election Commission of India (ECI) by tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12. The poll panel has been asked to publish the details on its website by 5 pm on Friday, March 15.

Here are the five highlights of the verdict

SBI to give details by March 12

After scrapping the Electoral Bonds Scheme, the Supreme Court had on February 15 directed India’s largest public bank, SBI, to submit all details regarding the bonds to the Election Commission of India by March 6. Further, the Election Commission was directed to publish the received data on its website by March 13.

However, on March 4, the SBI approached the top court with a plea seeking an extension until June 30 to disclose the details.

Today, a five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, with Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, rejected the SBI’s time-extension plea. The top court has ordered that the details be disclosed by SBI to the Election Commission by March 12.

"Submissions of SBI in the application indicates that info sought is readily available. Thus, the application by SBI seeking extension of time until June 30 is dismissed. SBI is directed to disclose the details by the close of business hours of March 12, 2024," the top Court said in the order, Bar & Bench reported.

Details on EC website by March 15

Bar & Bench reported that the bench, while passing the order, noted that the now-scrapped Electoral Bonds Scheme stipulated that the information furnished by the buyer of such bonds shall be treated as confidential by the authorised bank and shall be disclosed when called upon to do so or on registration of an offence by law enforcement agencies.

Once the SBI furnishes the details, the Election Commission of India is supposed to post them on its website. The poll panel has been asked to publish the details on its website by 5 pm on Friday, March 15.

The dates assume significance since the Election Commission is expected to announce the schedule for the April-May Lok Sabha polls 2024 in a few days from now. 

Contempt warning to SBI

The Supreme Court, in its March 11 order, also warned the SBI that it will initiate contempt proceedings against it if the information on the Electoral Bonds is not furnished before the close of business hours on March 12.

Also Read: SBI share price falls 2% on weak sentiment post electoral bond case hearing in Supreme Court

The SBI has been asked to file an affidavit of its Chairman and Managing Director on compliance with the SC directions. "While we are not inclined to exercise the contempt jurisdiction at this time, we place SBI on notice that this Court may be inclined to proceed against it for wilful disobedience if SBI does not comply with the directions by the timelines indicated in this order," the court said.

SC rejects two silo argument

The SBI, in its plea, had claimed that there were a large number of data sets to decipher. The plea said that as many as 22,217 bonds were purchased between April 2019 to February 2024, and this will lead to 44,000 plus data sets since there are two silos of info. Thus, the SBI said the compilation would be a time-consuming process. However, the Supreme Court refused to buy the argument, according to Bar & Bench.

No donor-political party link?

In the previous order, the Supreme Court had ordered that details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties must be furnished by the SBI to the poll panel by March 6.

The SBI was required to publish details about the purchaser, denomination of electoral bonds and details of each electoral bond redeemed by political parties, including the date of encashment.

However, the top court has agreed to SBI’s request of not linking the donor with the political party. The apex court said that the SBI is supposed to just open the sealed cover, collate the details and give the information to the Election Commissioner. The SBI was asked to simply provide the details of both donors and of bonds encashed by political parties, without 'matching' them.

So, importantly, the link between the donors of electoral bonds and the political parties who purchased them will not be established. 

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Published: 11 Mar 2024, 01:37 PM IST
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