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SC refuses out-of-turn hearing on industrial associations’ pleas against disclosure of alpha-numeric numbers of Electoral Bonds

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New Delhi, March 18 : The Supreme Court on Monday refused to urgently hear the applications moved by industrial associations objecting to the disclosure of the alpha-numeric numbers of the Electoral Bonds.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) and other industry associations, mentioned the intervention applications for an out-of-turn hearing before the CJI D.Y. Chandrachud-headed Constitution Bench.

At this, CJI Chandrachud said: “Your application is not numbered, it is not registered. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander! There is no application on board. Let it be circulated, we will deal with it in the normal course. Just because you’re appearing for a big client, we will not tolerate this. You will have to follow the rules.”

In response, Rohtagi said that the applications will turn infructuous if directions are passed on disclosure of alpha-numeric code.

But, the CJI said: “The whole world knew that this matter was being heard. You come after the judgment is delivered. You circulate an email. We will not hear you right now as we have a specific application on board. You follow the procedure (for urgent hearing). If I do it for Mr Rohatgi, the senior counsel, as Chief Justice, I will not have the face to tell all other juniors to whom I deny oral mentioning in the morning. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!”.

In its application, ASSOCHAM said that disclosure of the alpha-numeric numbers of the Electoral Bonds would reveal to which political party a contribution has been made by a particular company.

“It is respectfully submitted that these purchases were on the statutory assurance of confidentiality. The purchasers of the bonds had a legitimate expectation of confidentiality and the purchase of the bonds was made on the basis of this assurance,” the application stated.

It added that the protection of anonymity is critical for preserving donors’ privacy and guarding against any adversity by any opposing political factions or party to whom the investment is not made by the corporate entity.

However, the State Bank of India (SBI) has been ordered by the Supreme Court to make complete disclosure of all details in its possession relating to the Electoral Bonds, including the alpha-numeric code.

The top court ordered the SBI to file an affidavit by 5 p.m. on Thursday indicating that it has disclosed all details of the Electoral Bonds which were in its possession and custody and no information has been withheld from disclosure.

IANS

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