Electoral bonds: SBI moves SC seeking deadline extension for furnishing data

Representational Image. Photo: Shutterstock/ Harshit Srivastava S3

New Delhi: The State Bank of India on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time till June 30 to disclose details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties. In its verdict last month, the top court directed the SBI to furnish the details to the poll panel by March 6.

In an application filed before the top court, the State Bank of India (SBI) contended that retrieval of information from "each silo" and the procedure of matching the information of one silo to that of the other would be a time-consuming exercise.

The plea submitted that due to stringent measures undertaken to ensure that the identity of the donors was kept anonymous, "decoding' the electoral bonds and matching donors to the donations made would be a complex process.

"It submitted that the data related to the issuance of the bond and the data related to the redemption of the bond was kept recorded in two different silos. No central database was maintained. This was done to ensure that donors' anonymity would be protected.

"It is submitted that donor details were kept in a sealed cover at the designated branches and all such sealed covers were deposited in the Main Branch of the Applicant bank, which is located in Mumbai," the plea said.

Meanwhile, CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury raised suspicion about the bank's move and termed it a "travesty of justice".

He said in a post on X, "This would be a travesty of justice. Is SBI seeking an extension till after the general elections to protect Modi and the BJP from exposure of the 'quid pro quo' that the Hon'ble Supreme Court apprehended?"

"In this digital age, all this information is a mouse-click away. Seeking extension raises suspicious apprehensions," he said.

In a landmark judgement that delivered a big blow to the government, the Supreme Court on February 15 annulled the electoral bonds scheme for political funding, saying it violates the Constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression as well as the right to information.

In its verdict months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the apex court ordered SBI to disclose to the Election Commission the names of the contributors to the six-year-old scheme.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud directed that the SBI must disclose details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties. The information should include the date of encashment and the denomination of the bonds and be submitted to the poll panel by March 6.


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