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SBI submits electoral bonds data to Election Commission following Supreme Court rap: Sources

In a significant development, the Supreme Court mandated SBI to disclose the specifics of electoral bonds to the Election Commission by the conclusion of business hours on March 12. This order was issued on Monday, compelling SBI to comply with the deadline.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 New Delhi Updated on: March 12, 2024 19:23 IST
SBI
Image Source : PTI/FILE PHOTO State Bank of India (SBI) branch.

In response to recent criticism from the Supreme Court, the State Bank of India (SBI) swiftly transferred all data related to electoral bonds to the Election Commission. This action comes just one day after the Supreme Court rebuked the bank for failing to provide this information.

Supreme Court's rap prompts disclosure

The Supreme Court, chastising SBI for its delay, issued a directive on Monday ordering the bank to divulge the specifics of electoral bonds encashed by political parties to the Election Commission by the close of business hours on March 12.

SCBA calls for presidential reference

In a parallel development, Adish C Aggarwala, Chief of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), has urged the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, to intervene by seeking a presidential reference of the apex court's judgment in the electoral bonds scheme case.

Aggarwala underscored in his letter to the president that disclosing the names of corporations contributing to political parties could potentially expose them to victimisation, highlighting the sensitivity of the issue.

Disclosure deadline set by EC

Following the submission by SBI, the Election Commission is now tasked with publishing the disclosed details on its official website by 5 p.m. on March 15, as per the directives of the Supreme Court.

Electoral bond statistics

According to insider sources, SBI has dutifully fulfilled the apex court's orders by submitting comprehensive details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission. Since the inception of the scheme in 2018, SBI has issued electoral bonds worth a staggering Rs 16,518 crore in 30 tranches.

Supreme Court's landmark verdict

The Supreme Court's monumental ruling on February 15 invalidated the Centre's electoral bonds scheme, branding it "unconstitutional" due to its allowance of anonymous political funding. The court mandated the disclosure by the Election Commission of donors, donation amounts, and recipients.

Rejected plea for extension

Despite SBI's plea for an extension until June 30 to disclose the details, the Supreme Court dismissed the request and instructed the bank to furnish all pertinent information to the Election Commission by the end of Tuesday's working hours.

Introduction and functionality of electoral bonds

Electoral bonds were introduced as a means to substitute cash donations to political parties, to enhance transparency in political funding. The inaugural sale of electoral bonds occurred in March 2018, with the understanding that these bonds could only be redeemed by eligible political parties through authorized bank accounts. The State Bank of India (SBI) holds the exclusive authorization for issuing electoral bonds.

Also read | Lok Sabha Polls 2024: Vaibhav Gehlot to Phool Singh Baraiya, check state-wise list of Congress candidates

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