Electoral bonds: SBI should follow SC deadline, says bank employees' union

Press statement issued on 6 March 2024 by general secretary, Bank Employees Federation of India

Guess who gets the lion's share (Rs 9,120 crore, or 57.4%) of electoral bond donations? (image courtesy @sprgowtham/X)
Guess who gets the lion's share (Rs 9,120 crore, or 57.4%) of electoral bond donations? (image courtesy @sprgowtham/X)


The State Bank of India should adhere to the deadline set by the Supreme Court to disclose to the Election Commission the names of contributors to electoral bond scheme, a bank employees' trade union demanded today, 6 March.

The SBI had on Monday, 4 March, moved the top court seeking an extension of time till 30 June to disclose details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties. In its verdict last month, the court had directed the bank to furnish the details to the poll panel by 6 March.

In a statement issued in Kolkata, the Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) also alleged that public sector banks and its personnel are being utilised for "narrow political interest of the ruling forces" and said it opposes this. 

The BEFI is a union consisting of employees of commercial banks, the Reserve Bank of India, NABARD, regional rural banks and co-operative banks.

Calling the Supreme Court's verdict on electoral bonds a "landmark" judgement, the union said, "The country observed that SBI after 17 days since the judgement, moved an appeal to Supreme Court on March 4, 2024, just two days before the deadline March 6, 2024, seeking time up to June 30, 2024, to comply with the direction of the court by which time the ensuing general elections will be over".

The Lok Sabha polls are expected to be held in April-May. The schedule is yet to be announced by the Election Commission.

'The reason attributed by India's largest bank SBI is that some of the data is stored in physical form kept in sealed covers, surprising many in the digital era, especially in the banking sector, when most of the information is available with the click of a mouse,' the union said in its statement (below), signed by its secretary S Hari Rao. 

It also alleged that public sector banks are being used for the interest of 'ruling forces'. 

'Of late, it is observed that public sector banks and its personnel are utilised for narrow political interest of the ruling forces, like in the cases of observance of Partition Horrors Remembrance Day, Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra etc,' the union said.

'We express our strong opposition to such activities when the need of the hour is more recruitment in the banking industry and putting an halt to looting of public money through various means,' it said.

The BEFI 'unequivocally opposes utilisation of banks for political purposes and demands that the State Bank of India as a public sector bank disclose and submit all the details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission before the stipulated deadline of March 6, 2024, as directed by the Supreme Court since delayed justice is denial of justice,' the union said.

The matter is pending before the Supreme Court and believe that the court will take an appropriate decision in this regard, the union said.

In its application filed before the top court on Monday, the SBI has said data related to the issuance of electoral bond and the data related to the redemption of the bond was kept recorded in two different silos and no central database has been maintained to ensure that donors' anonymity.

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.

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