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SBI seeks time till June 30 to submit electoral bond donors' details

SBI seeks time till June 30 to submit electoral bond donors details

New Delhi: State Bank of India on Monday sought from the Supreme Court an extension of the deadline to June 30, to submit the details of electoral bonds purchased by donors to political parties.

The bank was ordered by the Supreme Court in its February 15 judgement in the electoral bond case to submit to the Election Commission the details of electoral bonds purchased sine April 2019, complete with the date of purchase, the buyers' name and denomination of the bond.

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud had in its landmark judgement of February 15 declared 'unconstitutional and manifestly arbitrary' the electoral bonds scheme, by which donors were allowed to donate funds to political parties remaining anonymous.

In the judgement the court asked SBI to stop issuing bonds forthwith and also to make a full disclosure to the Election Commission of India of the names of political parties which had received donations and encashed the electoral bonds since April 12, 2019. The SBI was asked to furnish such information to the ECI by March 6. In its turn, the ECI has to publish the entire information given by the SBI on its website by March 13.

If complied with, this directive would result in revelation to the public the details of donations made to the political parties by March 13. The bank's request if granted would mean that the details of donations so far would not come to public knowledge until well after the declaration of results of the Lok Sabha election due in May 2024. For its request for extension of deadline, the bank has cited reasons of 'stringent measures undertaken to ensure that the identity of the donors was kept anonymous' which needed decoding the bonds and the matching of the donor to the donations made'.

The bank also submitted that it has laid down a details Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for 29 authorised branches and that donor details were kept in a sealed cover at the designated branches.

SBI, while agreeing to comply with the apex court's order, also pleaded that the three-week timeline set by the court in its February 15, 2024, judgment would not be sufficient to complete the entire exercise. “Therefore, an extension of time may kindly be granted by this court in order to enable the SBI to comply with the judgment,” SBI said.

SBI's action in seeking extension has come in for flak by the Opposition parties who called it a 'travesty of justice', that effort was being made to ensure the data were not released in time for the elections to shield the corrupt practices of the Modi government.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted "When the Supreme Court has said that it is the right of the countrymen to know the truth about electoral bonds, then why does SBI want this information not to be made public before the elections?'

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the Congress' position on the electoral bonds scheme is that it is "opaque, undemocratic and destroyed the level playing field", PTI quoted him as saying.

"Modi government is using the largest bank of our country as a shield to hide its dubious dealings through Electoral Bonds," he said.

CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury also wondered whether the SBI's move was to shield fhe government.

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) chief petitioner in the original case against has said that it was considering all legal options against the SBI move, including opposing SBI in the court. Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar, founder-member and trustee of the ADR, termed the SBI move “not surprising but unfortunate”.

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TAGS:Supreme CourtSBIelectoral bondsdeadline extensionIndia news
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