Electoral bonds: SBI finally submits details to EC

Now it is for the Election Commission to publish the information on its website by 5 p.m. on 15 March

Representative image of State Bank of India office (photo: National Herald archives)
Representative image of State Bank of India office (photo: National Herald archives)


The State Bank of India (SBI) on Tuesday evening, 12 March, submitted details of the purchasers of electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India, in compliance with the Supreme Court order.

The Supreme Court had on Monday, 11 March, reiterated its order to the SBI to disclose the details of electoral bond purchases to the Election Commission. Denying its plea for an extension of the 8 March deadline, it insisted on the details being furnished by close of business hours on 12 March.

As per the Supreme Court order, the Election Commission will now have to publish the details shared by the bank on its official website by 5 p.m. on 15 March.

Now the SBI has complied with the orders of the apex court and submitted the details of the electoral bonds to the Election Commission.

The SBI has issued electoral bonds worth Rs 16,518 crore in 30 tranches since the inception of the scheme in 2018.

The Supreme Court, however, in a landmark verdict on 15 February scrapped the Centre's electoral bonds scheme that allowed for anonymous political funding, calling it "unconstitutional" and ordering disclosure by the Election Commission of the details of all donors—something the Central government had said the citizens have no right to know—as well as the amount donated by them and the political parties that were recipients of said funds.

The SBI had yesterday sought an extension of the deadline till 30 June for the disclosure of the required details. Its plea, however, was rejected by the apex court, which asked the bank to submit all details to the Election Commission by the close of working hours on Tuesday.

In denying the extra time sought, the court noted that the information was already available to the SBI, which was bound to record donor details through a KYC process each time and which the court did not require it to collate across databases as the SBI seemed to be interpreting.

Electoral bonds were introduced as a substitute for cash donations made to political parties, purportedly with the aim of enhancing transparency in political funding.

The first sale of electoral bonds took place in March 2018.

Electoral bonds were to be redeemed exclusively by an eligible political party through an authorised bank account, and the SBI is the sole authorised bank for issuing these bonds.

The scheme was pushed through by the Narendra Modi government despite the reservations on record from the Reserve Bank of India.

Based on PTI inputs

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