Electoral Bonds Case: SBI Requests More Time From Supreme Court For Providing Information

New Delhi: The State Bank of India (SBI) on Monday petitioned the Supreme Court for an extension of the deadline to provide information regarding electoral bonds to the Election Commission till June 30. The bank has requested the apex court to provide more time disclose details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties. 

Earlier in February, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement stuck down the electoral bonds scheme and directed the SBI to provide information to the Election Commission (EC) by March 6.

In a petition presented to the highest court, the State Bank of India (SBI) argued that extracting information from individual databases, referred to as “silos,” and cross-referencing data between them would require a considerable amount of time. The petition highlighted that the meticulous measures taken to maintain the anonymity of donors would make it challenging to decipher electoral bonds and correlate donors with their contributions, thus complicating the process.

In its plea the SBI stated, “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 added.

Termination Of Electoral Bonds

The Supreme Court terminated the controversial electoral bonds scheme, citing its infringement on citizens’ right to information. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud remarked that the electoral bonds scheme was unconstitutional and arbitrary, potentially fostering a quid pro quo arrangement between political parties and donors.

The Supreme Court instructed SBI to cease issuing these bonds and disclose details of donations made through this channel to the EC. The Election Commission was then tasked with publishing this information on its website by March 13.

A constitutional bench comprising five judges determined that the purported aim of combatting black money and preserving donor anonymity failed to justify the scheme. The court emphasized that electoral bonds were not the sole means to address the issue of black money.

Electoral Bond Scheme

Introduced in 2018, the electoral bonds scheme aimed to prevent the inflow of black money into the political arena. Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had asserted that the conventional practice of political funding in India involved cash donations, often from anonymous or pseudonymous sources. He argued that the existing system facilitated the influx of untraceable funds, emphasizing the need for transparency.