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‘No need to match donors with parties’: SC dismisses SBI’s extension plea in Electoral bonds case, directs it to furnish details by tomorrow

"The submissions of the SBI sufficiently indicate that the information is readily available. The Application filed by the SBI seeking an extension of time until 30 June 2024 is dismissed," ruled the apex court. The court directed SBI to disclose the details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties before the scheme was terminated last month.

The Supreme Court dismissed the State Bank of India’s (SBI) plea for an extension to disclose details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties before the scheme was scrapped last month, in its verdict on Monday.

The court noted that the SBI need not complete the matching exercise to link donors with the political parties and simply reveal the data of how much different political parties received in donation and who donated through electoral bonds.

“The submissions of the SBI sufficiently indicate that the information is readily available. The Application filed by the SBI seeking an extension of time until 30 June 2024 is dismissed,” ruled the apex court. The court directed SBI to disclose the details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties before the scheme was terminated last month.

The court directed SBI to disclose the details by the close of business hours on March 12. It further instructed the ECI to compile the information and publish the details on its official website no later than March 15, 2024, by 5 PM.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing the SBI, stated that the bank was in the process of gathering the information, which involved reversing the entire procedure. “As a bank, we were informed that this was supposed to be kept confidential,” he mentioned.

Salve then stated that the bank possesses full details on the bond purchasers, including information on the source of the money and the amounts tendered by each political party. “I now have to include the names of the purchasers. The names need to be collected and cross-checked with the bond numbers,” he explained.

The SBI counsel mentioned that the work is progressing meticulously, form by form, and it will require an additional three months to share the details. “I cannot afford any mistakes, as I could potentially face lawsuits from donors, among others.”

On February 15, the Supreme Court deemed the electoral bond scheme “unconstitutional.” It instructed the SBI to provide details of all electoral bond purchases since April 12, 2019, to the Election Commission by March 6. Additionally, the court directed this information to be published on the Election Commission’s website by March 13.

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