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Supreme Court Raps SBI's Selective Approach with Electoral Bonds, Sets New Deadline

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on March 18, 2024, 12:56:32

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State Bank India SBI cant selective disclosing information linked

The State Bank of India (SBI) can't be selective in disclosing information linked to electoral bonds, the Supreme Court of India said on Monday, directing the bank to submit full details of the bonds' numbers to the Election Commission by March 21.

The apex court also ordered the chairman of the bank to file a compliance affidavit by March 21.

The Supreme Court ordered the bank to disclose all "conceivable" electoral bond details in its possession, including unique bond numbers that would disclose the link between the buyer and the recipient political party.

A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, in a strongly worded rebuke, said it had asked the bank to disclose all the details of the bonds and that it should not wait for further orders.

"We had asked all details to be disclosed by the SBI which includes electoral bond numbers as well. Let SBI not be selective in disclosure," the bench, also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the SBI, said it should not seem that "we are playing with court". He said if the court wants the numbers of electoral bonds, "we will give".

The bank said it will give every bit of information required by the court.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, said the bank should file an affidavit stating that it has not suppressed any information.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the main aim of formulating the electoral bonds scheme was to curb black money in politics. He said that the apex court must be aware of how this judgment is being played outside the court.

He claimed witch-hunting has started over the details. He claimed some social media posts, which "intended to cause embarrassment", have started to surface. He urged the court to issue some direction in this regard.

Responding to the request, CJI DY Chandrachud said: “As judges, we are only on the rule of law and work as per the Constitution. Our court is only to work for the governance of the rule of law in this polity. As judges, we are also discussed in social media but our shoulders are broad enough to take this. We are only enforcing our directions of judgment.”

In two tranches, the SBI has disclosed the names of donors and beneficiaries. The BJP has emerged as the party which has encashed the largest sum over the period of 2019 and 2024. The Trinamool is second on the list, the Congress third and the BRS fourth.

The SBI has not disclosed who has donated to whom. Only the DMK has shared the breakup of donations by donors.

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