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Electoral Bonds: India SC Dismisses SBI's Plea, Seeks Details by Tomorrow

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on March 11, 2024, 15:55:39

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supreme court of India, electoral bonds, SBI, election commission of India

Turning down the State Bank of India's (SBI) request for more time to disclose details of the electoral bonds scheme, the Supreme Court today said the bank must share the details with the Election Commission of India (ECI) by tomorrow.

The poll body has been asked to publish the details on its website by 5pm on Friday. The court also warned that it will initiate contempt proceedings against the government-run bank if it does not provide the information by tomorrow.

Earlier, hearing SBI's request for more time to provide details of the now-scrapped scheme, the Supreme Court fielded tough questions and asked what the bank has done for the past 26 days. The SBI had approached the court for an extension, allowing it to disclose the details by June 30.

The court had, in a landmark verdict on February 15, scrapped the electoral bonds scheme and directed the Election Commission to make the details of donation public by March 13.

The SBI's plea for more time was opposed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which was among the petitioners who had challenged the electoral bonds scheme brought by the Narendra Modi government in 2017. The ADR had said the application has been filed at the last moment to ensure the details are not public before the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Appearing for SBI, Senior Advocate Harish Salve said the bank had followed an SOP to store information about the electoral bonds scheme outside the core banking system.

"We need a little more time to comply with the order. We are trying to collate the info and we are having to reverse the entire process. We as a bank were told that this is supposed to be a secret," he said.

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, who led the five-judge Constitution bench, noted that it was submitted that the donor details were kept in sealed cover in a Mumbai branch of the bank.

Justice Sanjiv Khanna said, "You have to just open the sealed cover, collate the details and give the information."
To this, Salve replied, "I have full details on who purchased the bond and I have full details from where the money came from and which political party tendered how much. I have to also now put the name of purchasers. The names have to be collated, crosschecked with the bond numbers."

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