Supreme Court to Hear SBI's Request for Extension in Electoral Bonds Disclosure Today
Supreme Court to Hear SBI's Request for Extension in Electoral Bonds Disclosure Today

Today, the Supreme Court is set to address the State Bank of India's (SBI) plea for an extension until June 30 to reveal the particulars of each electoral bond cashed by political parties before the termination of the scheme last month.

A five-judge Constitution bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud will also review a separate petition alleging contempt against SBI for purportedly disregarding the apex court's directive to furnish details of political contributions via electoral bonds to the Election Commission by March 6.

The bench, including Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, will convene at 10:30 am to deliberate on these matters.

In a significant ruling on February 15, a five-judge constitution bench invalidated the government's electoral bonds scheme, deeming it "unconstitutional" due to its allowance of anonymous political funding. The court mandated the Election Commission to disclose donor information, donation amounts, and recipients by March 13.

Following this decision, the Supreme Court directed SBI, the designated financial institution for the scheme, to furnish details of electoral bonds purchased from April 12, 2019, onwards to the Election Commission by March 6, with the information to be made public on the Commission's website by March 13.

On March 4, SBI petitioned the apex court for an extension until June 30 to divulge the specifics of electoral bonds cashed by political parties. SBI argued that retrieving data from separate sources and cross-referencing them would be time-consuming.

According to SBI's submission, maintaining anonymity for donors required intricate processes, as information regarding bond issuance and redemption was stored separately without a central database.

Moreover, a separate contempt petition was lodged against SBI, alleging that its eleventh-hour extension request was a deliberate attempt to withhold donor information before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, contrary to the court's directives.

The petitioners, NGOs Association for Democratic Reforms and Common Cause, contended that SBI's actions amounted to defiance of the court's order and undermined its authority.

The plea emphasized the traceability of electoral bonds through SBI's numbered records, arguing that any form of financial anonymity in political affairs contradicts the principles of participatory democracy and the public's right to information, as enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

The petition stressed that making information about electoral bonds accessible would empower voters to make informed decisions, thereby strengthening democratic processes.

Here's How SBI Deletes Electoral Bond Documents from Website

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